ST. LOUIS – The board of trustees for the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District voted in favor of a proposed rate increase that would raise customers’ bills by approximately 32% over four years.

The proposed increase will now head to the April ballot, where voters will have the final say.

MSD’s Rate Commission recommended the increase despite objections from critics, who believe the increase will lead to difficult choices for some citizens. Some were hoping the board would consider a smaller, 24% increase.

“I’ll be 72 next month and right now, I’m still working trying to catch up on bills,” St. Louis resident Sheila Davis said. She and several other MSD customers expressed their opposition to the board before the vote was taken.

“For those people that are on the edge, who are struggling, those few dollars a month are the difference between being able to stay in their homes and having to move out,” Sandra Padgett, Consumers Council of Missouri, said.

The board’s chair, Amy Fehr, released a statement following the vote. The statement read, in part, “The independent Rate Commission, which represents the voice and interest of the community, conducted 14 public hearings, ensuring a multitude of perspectives was heard. Their recommendation is the result of a rigorous and transparent process informed by a deep understanding of our community’s needs and the district’s operational imperatives.”

Here’s how rates would be affected, according to MSD:

IncreaseAverage Bill
FY25 (begins July 2024)7%$61.04
FY26 (begins July 2025)7.6%$65.66
FY27 (begins July 2026)7.5%$70.60
FY28 (begins July 2027)6.6%$75.23
FY29 (begins July 2028)4.75%$78.86
FY30 (begins July 2029)4.5%$82.43
FY31 (begins July 2030)4.5%$86.17
FY32 (begins July 2031)4.5%$90.09
Source: Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District

Voters will be asked to approve bond financing, a move designed to spread out the cost. Regulatory requirements are one factor contributing to the proposed rate increase.

The agency is approximately halfway through completing $7.3 billion worth of projects required under a federal consent decree.

“We are not collecting more money than we need,” said Brian Hoelscher, MSD CEO and executive director.