Water rates increase slightly

Published 10:54 am Wednesday, June 13, 2012

GATESVILLE – Several changes are in store for customers of Gates County’s Public Water system.

The most immediate change is a $1 increase per 1,000 gallons of water use above the base rate. That hike becomes effective July 1.

Timmy Hedgepeth, Water Department Supervisor, outlined the changes during last week’s meeting of the Gates County Board of Commissioners. There he explained that the flat monthly rate of $10 remains the same. What’s new, and has been voted on and approved, is a $1 increase in each additional 1,000 gallons used in excess of the base rate. That new rate is now $3 per 1,000 gallons (previously was $2).

Commissioner John Hora inquired of what the new revenue stream would be, based on the current usage with the added $1 per 1,000 gallons. Hedgepeth said he didn’t have those numbers with him, but would provide Hora with that information.

Hedgepeth also explained the tap-on fees. They remain at $750 for a three-quarter inch line and $1,000 for a one-inch line (fees that haven’t changed since April of 1999). As of this year, the Water Department is offering an inch and one-half service that carries a tap-on fee of $2,000.

“It’s pricey, but it has a great deal of flow,” said Hedgepeth, adding there are currently two such water customers (one commercial, one residential) in the county using one and one-half inch service lines.

There is also an Impact Fee as part of the Water Department’s rules and regulations. That applies to commercial properties whose water usage far exceeds average household consumption. The one-time fee is $1,000 per REU (Residential Equivalent Unit, which is 4,000 gallons per month).

As is the case of anyone seeking to become a customer of the county’s public water system, service will be supplied only to those who have made application and have paid          the tap-on fee and/or impact fee in full.

Commission Vice Chair Henry Jordan opened the door for discussion on another new policy to fall under the rules and regulations of the water department. He said the county’s current policy calls for underground boring in order to provide service to a water customer whose property is located across the road from the main service line.

“For residential customers, the county bores the underground line for that customer across the road to connect,” Jordan explained. “But the way our current policy is written, it’s kind of a gray area for a developer. The way I read our current policy, it’s the job of the developer to bore under the road and tap into our (water) line. That puts somewhat of a hardship on a developer. In all fairness we should bring the water, just like we do for everyone else, across the road to the property and then have the developer tie into our line and carry out the water distribution lines according to plan.”

Jordan asked for new wording to be written into the water department’s rules and regulations that reads, “Borings: under circumstances where the county’s distribution line is on the opposite side of a roadway of a consumer, the Gates County Public Works Department will be responsible for bringing the utility service to the side of the road of the consumer. Once service is on the same side of the roadway of the consumer, the applicable process will be followed in terms of bringing the service onto the private property of the customer. The subdivision developer will install all lines within the development in accordance with engineering design and approved by the county.”

Jordan then made a motion to add that wording to the rules and regulations. Commissioner Kenneth Jernigan offered a second.

“I’d carry that language a little bit further as to who the responsibility (falls upon) of the engineer’s design drawings for that bore and tap,” Hedgepeth stated. “You must have engineer drawings because these types of bore and taps are eight inch. This needs to be explained in that new wording. It needs to be explained that the developer is responsible for those drawings, not the county.”

Jordan asked Hedgepeth to use his best judgment on how to properly word the new policy. County Manager Toby Chappell said the board could approve all the new language in the rules and regulations, to include the sentence that Hedgepeth will add to Jordan’s suggestion. The board, in a 5-0 vote, did approve that new addition as well as the entire policy.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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