Water & sewer rates to rise

Published 10:03 am Thursday, June 26, 2014

AHOSKIE – Much like a finger in the dike, they held back the water for as long as they could.

With the release of Ahoskie’s new fee schedule of the fiscal year 2014-15, for the first time since 2009 the water and sewer rates for the town, residential and commercial, will increase effective July 1.

The residential water flat rate will increase by $1 from $10 to $11 while the per 1,000 gallon rate went up by 20 cents from $3.65 to $3.85. The same held true for residential sewer rates, the flat fee going from $20 to $21, and the per 1,000 gallon rate expanding from $3.35 to $3.55.

It was just a year ago in the budget planning process for 2013-14 that Ahoskie Town Manager Tony Hammond suggested there was the possibility that water/sewer rates may need to increase by three percent, as suggested by the Local Government Commission (LGC).

“But the Town Council opposed that,” Hammond said in 2013. “They made it clear they wanted to hold the rates at their current levels.”

While defending the Town Council’s decision to keep the rates stable for the past four years, Hammond says rising operational costs of the three-year old Wastewater Treatment Plant were the overriding factor.

“In 2010 the operational cost was $1,968,000,” said Hammond in a memo. “In 2011 (the year which the new plant opened) the operational cost increased to $2,264,243.  In 2012 the operational cost was $2,515,130, while in 2013 the cost was $2,966,908.”

All three of the town’s audit reports reviewed by the LGC beginning in 2011 recommended that the rates be raised in order for the system to be self-sustaining, according to the Town Manager; but despite that, city government had managed to hold the line.

“The Ahoskie Town Council chose not to raise the rates at that time, but to continue operating the system and provide the same level of service to its customers as it had in the past,” said Hammond.

Based on those reports it was becoming obvious that the only way to increase revenue to operate the system was one of two possible solutions and scenarios: increase the customer base (via annexation), or raise the rates.

“Since the state of North Carolina has all but stopped annexations as of 2011, the only option to increase the customer base within the town limits is add new users,” Hammond reasoned. “However growth is not currently happening at a fast rate, leaving raising the rates as the only option.”

With the cost of equipment and supplies continuing to rise, when the Ahoskie Town Council adopted the 2014-15 town budget they approved the Town Manager’s recommendation that would slightly increase the water and sewer rates.

The new rates will be as follows:

Residential Rates:

Water Flat Rate $11.00; per 1,000 gallon rate: $3.85.

Sewer Flat Rate $21.00; per 1,000 gallon rate: $5.55.

The bill for 1,000 gallons of water/sewer/garbage will go from $54.15 to $56.15.

Commercial Rates:

Water Flat rate $12.00; per 1,000 gallon up to 5,000 rate: $3.85, 5,001 to 10,000 rate: $4.85; 10,001 and above rate: $5.85.

Sewer Flat Rate $22.00; per 1,000 gallon up to 5,000 rate: $5.55; 5,001 to 10,000 gallons rate: $6.55; 10,001 and above rate: $7.55.

The bill for 1,000 gallons of water/sewer/garbage combined will go from $66.20 to $70.20.

More information on the new rate schedule is available at the AhoskieTown Hall at 201 West Main Street from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.  You may also call 252-332-5146 or visit the town web site at www.ahoskie-nc.org and search for Fee Schedule.