Vero Beach electric customers will see rate increase in bills sent out Wednesday

VERO BEACH, Fla. - Customers of the city's electric system will see a 5.8 percent increase in the electric charge beginning with bills sent out Wednesday.

Increased cost projections, primarily related to the city's wholesale power costs, was cited as the reason for the increase, according to city staff members who made a presentation to the City Council Tuesday.

City Manager Jim O'Connor has the authority to make rate adjustments without council approval and the council Tuesday took no action to overturn his decision.

City Councilman Richard Winger said he would prefer the city's Utilities Commission review the proposed increase first, but didn't make a motion to defer the increase. Instead, at Mayor Craig Fletcher's suggestion O'Connor will take future adjustments to the Utilities Commission first.

Electric Utility Director Tom Richards said after the meeting that they did not anticipate a need for any additional increase next year unless something drastic happened and hopefully they will be able to lower it instead. O'Connor concurred.

The city is expected to review revenue and expenses and make any adjustment needed in May. Finance Director Cindy Lawson said a big factor in terms of revenue is weather. For the year, the numbers came in relatively flat.

This story will be updated.

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