04/27/08 — First comes property, then water use

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First comes property, then water use

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on April 27, 2008 2:02 AM

Higher property taxes might not be the only bills Goldsboro residents will see increasing this year.

Their water and refuse rates might be on the rise, too.

Goldsboro officials are continuing to work on the proposed budget for the coming year and along with the already announced 5-cent hike, are now considering adding a 10 percent increase for water usage.

That means residents will likely see about $1.40 more per month on their water bill.

City Manager Joe Huffman said the increase will help with future water system projects.

"Basically, we are going to have some major needs in the coming years," he said.

Huffman said the water plant needs some rehabilitation. Built in the 1950s, the plant needs some improvements and updating to make it more efficient and able to cope with some of the more modern city water needs -- and to do that, Goldsboro needs money.

The water rate increase would generate $437,164 for the city, revenue that it hasn't seen in past months due to the severity of the drought and residents' increasing careful water usage.

When officials added the highest level of restrictions the city has seen in the past years in November to help alleviate some of the drought conditions, residents started to seriously conserve, driving their water usage down.

And the city's revenue took the same direction, with a drop of $63,821 from October to November and a total of $24,000 less from November to January.

Even in March, as revenues began increasing, Huffman said a water rate hike wasn't out of the question.

Now, as the budget is getting closer to being approved by the City Council, the increase is on the table again.

But, Huffman added, Goldsboro's water rates are lower than other cities in the area.

"The adjustment seems necessary since our water rates are comparatively low," he said.

Huffman has said that a water rate increase in Goldsboro designed to help the city satisfy its long-term needs will only make its rates comparable to other communities in the area.

The proposed budget also includes a 25-cent per month rise in refuse fees for residential users.

The increase, officials say, will help offset state-mandated increases of $2 per ton in landfill charges by Wayne County.

So residents might see a rate of $15.25 on their monthly bills instead of the current $15 if council members decide to move forward with the budget plans.

Council is expected to discuss the proposed budget this week -- and will likely make changes to the proposal.

A final decision is still weeks away, city officials said.