KEYE-TV - Search Results
Water, Electricity Rate Rise Squeezing Small Austin Businesses
The mayor of Austin gave his fourth state of the city address Tuesday. He talked about transportation, job growth and embracing change. But there's one change some Austinites aren't happy with, the increase in water rates and electricity.
Jason Surdy is co-owner of Hill Country Ranch, a new restaurant in North Austin. "Every month when that utility bill comes in the mail, it's tough." He's already seen an increase in electricity rates, now he's dealing with an increase in water rates. "You know those things, they start to add up, a few hundred dollars there, a few hundred dollars here, now it's a piece of equipment I can't buy and someone I can't hire."
Surdy's landlord has already told him his common area will be going up about $1,000 a year. That's the money to pay for utilities outside their restaurant, like the parking lot and entrance areas. "That extra $900- $1000 dollars a year is simply to the landlord, to take care of the land out here," he says. But that doesn't include his own bills. "We know they're going up and we got to plan for it, it's going to be more than a thousand a year, I can tell you that right now."
But will all these increases pricing small business and residents out of Austin? We asked Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell about the issue. "We are doing our best to keep down the cost of living, I'm fully aware that that is a big problem not only the cost of water and electricity but also property taxes," he said.
Still, the mayor says the tax rate is the lowest of the five major cities in the state. But property values are higher which means you pay more than most Texas cities.
Even with the increase, Surdy says he's not going anywhere. He says historically Austinites embrace small business. "It's about the people who live here, do business here, support their communities here and that's the core of Austin business, no doubt about," he says. And he wants to be part of it.
By Lydia Pantazes