New fee schedule needs to be refined

Published 12:07 pm Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The devil, as the old saying goes, is in the details.

Some months ago, seeking to reward its residents for water conservation and, simultaneously, move forward with its $18 million expansion to the wastewater treatment plant and the additional personnel it will require, the Ahoskie Town Council adopted a new water/sewer fee schedule.

The new schedule, which went into effect July 1, calls for a monthly flat rate of $10 for water and $20 for sewer from zero to 2,999 gallons. Fees are assessed above that.

Customers using between 3,000 and 5,000 gallons monthly will be charged an additional $3.65 per 1,000 gallons of water and $5.35 for each 1,000 gallons of sewer.

Those additional fees increase by $1 each for water/sewer usage of 5,001-10,000 gallons; 10,001-20,000 gallons; 20,001-40,000 gallons; and 40,001-plus gallons.

Much thought went into that plan. And the need is real.

But when the first bills under the new fee structure were issued, anomalies quickly surfaced.

For example, the water bill at Jamie Johnson’s Crystal Clean Car Wash more than doubled.

The one Johnson received and paid at the end of June was for $833.10.

The one he received at the end of July was for $1,790.72.

(And then, when Johnson went to complain, he asked for a copy of the new schedule and was told he would be charged 30 cents for that. There’s another old saying about “insult to injury” that was probably appropriate at that point.)

The point is that, in the implementation of any plan with as many variables as this one must, of necessity, have, there will be unforeseen results, complications.

We suspect there are others similar to the one cited here. It is to be hoped those who represent us all will look at those and find ways to accomplish what needs to be accomplished without unfairly burdening a few.

– The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald