06/13/08 — Mount Olive Town Board considers raising water rates

View Archive

Mount Olive Town Board considers raising water rates

By Steve Herring
Published in News on June 13, 2008 1:47 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Town water customers here could soon have an added incentive to conserve water -- saving money. However, even with the adjustment, some customers might still see an increase.

A budget proposal that goes before town commissioners for approval on June 23 includes a rate adjustment that is "pay-as-you-go," town officials said.

"It is a rate adjustment not an increase, but that does not mean that some people's water bills won't go up," Town Manager Charles Brown said. "The new rate structure will be based on usage so I am sure for people who use very small amounts of water, in all likelihood their bills will go down.

"Some of the bigger users will see an increase, but we feel it is a fairer way to do it. People will be paying based on their usage. It sort of puts the user in control -- they can affect the amount of their water bill if they can conserve and cut back on their usage."

The increases that do materialize will pump more revenue into the town's water/sewer fund so that the town can perform maintenance on its water distribution system and sewer collection system.

Under the new rates, the town will charge a monthly "facility" charge for water and sewer -- a fee to be part of the system. The sewer fee is $14.64 for both residential and commercial users inside the town limits. Customers also will pay .038 cents for each cubic foot of sewer.

The monthly water fees will be $7.71 for in-town residential users and $15.42 for out-of-town users; $14 for commercial inside and $28 for commercial outside. The charge per cubic foot of water will be residential inside, .0195, and outside .039; and commercial inside, .013 and outside, .026.

For example, a residential customer who uses 350 cubic feet of sewer and water would have a monthly bill of $61.73. The 350 cubic feet of sewer would cost $7.71 and the water would be $13.3 for a total of $21.01. The facilities fees would add $22.35

The water bill includes a $3 surcharge and a $15.55 garbage fee. The garbage fee is scheduled to increase to $16.25 on July 1.

Brown said town officials had known for some time that the town was not charging enough for water. That in turn meant the town was not generating enough revenue in those departments to maintain them.

The Local Government Commission, town auditor and Rural Water Association confirmed that assessment. The association helped the town with the rate restructuring after the Local Government Commission told the town it needed to do something.

In the past, customers paid for 2,600 gallons of water/sewer whether they used that much or not. After that threshold, water was practically free costing just 58 cents for each additional 1,000 gallons.

Brown said the town set the rates "a little lower" than suggested.

"We wanted to what impact it would have first," he said.

Town officials met with the town's larger water customers prior to announcing the rate changes. Brown said the town did want "to surprise" them.

He said the response was surprising in some ways, but "not really." He said one customer said his company had thought for some time that the town did not charge enough for water. They even asked if the new rate would be enough.

"We're glad to have such corporate citizens," he said.