Water rates modified

Published 8:23 am Wednesday, July 3, 2013

WINTON – Customers of the Hertford County Northern and Southern Rural Water District will note a slight change in their bills.

Effective July 1, the per-1,000 gallon rate for usage above 2,000 gallons will be $4. That rate is $1 less for residential customers and establishes a uniform rate for commercial and multi-user accounts.

The monthly base charge ($25 which covers the first 2,000 gallons of usage) remains unchanged for all water customers.

Hertford County Manager Loria Williams said the idea to establish a more uniform rate was initially discussed during the budget work sessions conducted by the board of commissioners.

“That discussion did not evolve around an increase to the rates, but a modification of the rates in and around the fee assessed to customers using in excess of 2,000 gallons monthly,” she noted.

Williams said Mike Bradley, the county’s Public Works Director, had studied the water rates of other jurisdictions, finding that the local rates were on a decreasing scale (per 1,000 gallons over the 2,000 gallon base rate) rather than an increasing or uniform rate.

“Mr. Bradley also informed you that if we go after new money (to expand the system) through USDA or the (NC) Rura lCenter, they will not allow us to utilize our existing (water) rate structure,” Williams said. “Those funding agencies will ask us to modify our rate schedule.”

Williams said the county wanted to “be somewhere in the middle” with their rates.

Prior to July 1, residential customers paid $5 per 1,000 gallons over the base 2,000 gallons. That $5 per 1,000 gallons applied for all monthly water usage up to one million gallons.

On the commercial side, there was a decreasing scale for usage over 2,000 gallons……$4.50 per 1,000 gallons for the next 2,000 gallons; $3 per 1,000 gallons for the ensuing 2,000 gallons; and $2.50 per 1,000 gallons for water usage between 6,001 and 1,000,000 gallons. Anything over one million gallons was billed at $1.75 per 1,000 gallons.

The descending scale also applied to multi-residential users (trailer courts, multiple apartments served through a single meter). Their rate was $4 per 1,000 gallons for usage between 2,001 and 1,000,000 gallons. A charge of $1.75 per 1,000 gallons was billed for usage over one million gallons.

With the passage of this modification, all water customers in the county will pay a $25 flat rate plus $4 per 1,000 gallons for all usage in excess of 2,000 gallons.

The fees cover the cost of operating the two water districts.

“The county isn’t making a lot of money off water fees; we do not put a lot in the reserve account,” Williams said. “However, what we’ve noted over the years is that the residential customers are paying the lion’s share; they carry the system….the commercial/multi users do not. The uniform rate balances things out.”

On a motion from Commissioner Howard Hunter III and a second from Commissioner Johnnie Ray Farmer, the water rate modification was approved by a 5-0 vote. The board was acting as the Northern and Southern Rural Water District governing body at the time of this discussion and ensuing vote.

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.

email author More by Cal