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Utility Rate FAQs

What is changing?

Starting in October 2022, the typical City of Tulsa residential utility bill is expected to increase by about $7/month. These changes will be reflected on October bills that are received in November. 

  • Water rates – No Change
  • Sewer rates – Increase by $3.13/month
  • Stormwater rates – Increase by 77 cents/month
  • Trash rates – Increase by $3.08/month (depending on cart service)

Inflation, supply chain challenges, and increases in contract prices between the City and its vendors are the main reasons for the increase in utility rates. 

  1. Inflation – Inflation is impacting all sectors of the economy including the City of Tulsa’s ability to purchase goods and services. Water treatment chemicals have increased by 40%, energy prices have increased by 20%, paving repairs have increased by 20%, and equipment maintenance has increased 12% over last year. These increases have added millions more to the budget, and these costs are unavoidably passed on to utility rate payers.
  2. Supply Chain – The City of Tulsa has numerous purchases for equipment, vehicles, materials and supplies that have been on hold waiting delivery, and while they wait, inflation and costs continue to increase. In some cases, purchases are limited to availability and usually come with an increased price.
  3. Contracts – Some contractors, vendors and suppliers have not been able to honor existing contracts due to inflation or supply chain issues. This requires rebidding contracts resulting in a higher cost. The Tulsa Authority for Recovery of Energy (TARE) is entering into new contracts for disposal of waste and collection of trash and recycling. Contractors are bidding higher prices to cover their inflated costs, too, and the City is unavoidably having to pass these costs on to utility rate payers.

There are three main ways you can work to lower your bill, which include:

  1. Review the services you currently receive. If you currently have twice-a- week-service, review whether you would be better served with receiving service once a week or having two trash carts picked up once a week. Do you pay for a 96-gallon cart but it's only half full each week? You could downsize for $10 and save money on your monthly bill. Remember, though, there is no savings if you downsize your cart but then need to put out two extra bags each week with 50-cent stickers. Households may request a change in cart size at any time for a one-time $10 fee. The easiest way to request a change is to email tulsa311@cityoftulsa.org or call 311 during regular business hours. More information on trash cart rates, sizes and premium services can be found online (these rates will be updated on October 3, 2022.
  2. Eliminate recycling contamination. One of the reasons the City is getting quoted more for recycling services is because of higher-than-normal contamination rates going into the sorting facility. For example, a single contaminated cart can result in the entire truckload full of recyclables having to be discarded. This results in an entire load not being able to be sorted and sold, which decreases revenues for the facility and the City, resulting in higher quotes to the City when contracts are re-negotiated. By reducing contamination and only recycling recyclables, you’re helping the City and the sorting facility negotiate the lowest rates possible that are reflected on your utility bill. For more information on what can and can’t be recycled, visit tulsarecycles.com.
  3. Water Conservation. Reducing your water consumption may have the greatest impact on your water bill. By not using excess water and checking for leaks, the water usage portion of your bill will be lower. Please note, if you will be taking steps to reduce your water consumption, other fixed rates on your utility bill are going up, so though you may not be using more water, stormwater, sewer and trash rates are increasing on every utility bill for the typical residential customer by about $7/month.

There are three main ways to get help with your bill, namely:

  1. If you’re behind on your bill, call 311 to setup a payment plan. If you find yourself behind on utility payments, you can call 311 to setup payment plan through the automated system so you are able to make your utility payments on time to avoid any potential service disruptions due to non-payment.
  2. Call 211 for assistance. 2-1-1 has various resources to help individuals and families in need. You can text “HELP” to (877) 836-2111 for help with food, rent, utilities and more. For more information, visit https://csctulsa.org/211eok/.
  3. Utilize the Tulsa Financial Empowerment Center. The City of Tulsa and Goodwill Industries of Tulsa have an entirely free way for anyone to get help managing their finances and get connected to vital resources. To schedule a no-cost appointment with a financial counselor who can help you create a budget, get rid of debt, and stay on top of your finances, visit goodwilltulsa.org/FEC or call (918) 802-7279.

If you have questions about specific charges on your bill, you can contact our Customer Care Center by calling 311, (918) 596-2100, or sending an email to tulsa311@cityoftulsa.org.

In most instances, there is no expansion in services. The increase in rates is to cover cost increases associated with providing the same level of service.

The four utilities (Water, Sanitary Sewer, Stormwater and Trash/Recycling) are already provided without extra, unnecessary programs, so a reduction in services is not being considered. Trash and recycling services are provided with multiple ala carte options giving residents the opportunity to control their costs through the programs offered. Water and sanitary sewer services have to comply with EPA and Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) regulations. Tulsa’s robust water system has contributed to an Insurance Service Office (ISO) Class 1 rating for the Tulsa Fire Department and has reduced insurance rates for the community. And the stormwater program must comply with National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Systems (NPDES) permits, with Tulsa recently receiving a Class 1 national Flood Insurance Program ranking from FEMA, also resulting in reduced insurance rates for the community.

The Water Fund is using capital reserve dollars to apply to the capital improvement projects allowing other cash to go toward increases for personnel, materials and supplies, and services.

The Wastewater Fund and the Stormwater Fund do not have money in a dedicated capital reserve like the Water Fund. Capital costs are paid only from revenue received through rates. These dollars pay directly for capital improvements or the debt payments for money that was borrowed for the capital programs.

The City of Tulsa is a capital-intensive business with more than 2,300 miles of water lines, 2,100 miles of wastewater lines, 1,000 miles of stormwater lines, and 4,500 lane miles of roads. Water, sanitary sewer, and stormwater budgets include the cost to keep these pipes, treatment plants, and systems operating effectively and efficiently.

In 2012, the Tulsa Authority for Recovery of Energy (TARE) entered into 10-year contracts for the beneficial disposal of waste with Covanta, the collection of waste and recycling with NeWSolutions, and the processing of recyclables with Tulsa Recycle and Transfer. NeWSolutions renewed its contract through September 2026, while the other contracts need to be rebid again and are expected to increase to rates similar to our surrounding peer cities.

For similarly sized cities dedicated to robust asset management and providing high levels of service, the projected rates are similar for a customer using 4,500 gallons of water, discharging 3,000 gallons of sanitary sewer, paying for stormwater and utilizing a 96-gallon cart for refuse and recycling.