Rate hike in water, sewer passed by council

Slusser

After consulting with professional services and holding several committee meetings to solve the issue of a projected shortage in Warsaw’s water and sewer fund, town officials have agreed to raise the base rates for local users beginning July 1.

During Warsaw’s finance committee’s midyear review of the fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget on Wednesday, Feb. 6, Town Manager John Slusser noted a decrease in the town’s water and sewer revenue.

While Slusser told the committee that Warsaw “had the cheapest water in the state right now” in terms of residential rates, he attributed the reduction in revenue to a decline in inmates at the Northern Neck Regional Jail, as well as to Warsaw Health Care’s closure in March of last year.

Warsaw Town Council met with two representatives from Draper Aden Associates (DAA) on Tuesday, March 19, to discuss possible solutions to tackling the town’s water and sewer dilemma.

DAA had discovered that, of the total volume of wastewater billed by the town, Warsaw’s residents were paying 6 percent less than what they were using, while commercial users were overpaying their share of the bill by 5 percent.

“They’re paying a little bit more than their share,” Stephens told council. “That might be a place where we try not to increase rates so much.”

On May 22, the utilities committee met and agreed upon increases in monthly rates for water and sewer as presented by Slusser.

The in-town residential water rates will go from $7 per 3,000 gallons to $11 per 4,000. Residents outside the town will pay $1.10 higher per 4,000 in their base rates.

Commercial users inside Warsaw will also see an increase in their base charge for water from $25.50 per 3,000 to $26 per 4,000, while out-of-town businesses’ rates are expected to increase by $3.10 to $28.60 per month.

Based on the rate changes, the town projected $158,526.80 in revenue from base charges, as well as $81,473.20 in overages, to meet the total requirement for the water fund of $240,000.

For the wastewater fund, in-town residential rates are slated to increase from $28.75 per 3,000 per month to $40 per 4,000, with out-of-town users paying $4 per 4,000 more in their base rates.

In-town commercial rates will go up $0.50 from $57.50 per 3,000 per month to $58 per 4,000 with out-of-town businesses paying $63.80 per 4,000.

To meet the requirement of $750,000 in sewer revenue, the town anticipated $412,042 in base charges and $337,958 from overages.

On May 23, during council’s acceptance of the rate increases, Slusser noted that there were “pros and cons” to the decision.

“It’s not going to please everybody, and it may not please anybody,” Slusser admitted. “It is what it is, and the problem is, in my opinion, that we’ve gotten more expenses than users. If we had more users, we could provide more relief.”

Councilmember William Washington stressed that the rates were not “contrived arbitrarily or haphazardly.”

“This is work that has been done over the course of months…to analyze where we are and how we get to where we need to go,” said Washington. “A lot of thought has been put into this.”

Council unanimously adopted the new rates unanimously.

Councilmember Sherry Pierson was not in attendance.

In addition, council voted to send the FY 2014 budget with the rates attached to a public hearing on Tuesday, June 11 at 7 p.m. in town hall.

Posted on Friday, May 31, 2013 at 9:30 am