Water fee increase effective April 1
Published 4:42 pm Tuesday, March 7, 2023
GATESVILLE – The plan to approve a rate increase for customers of the Gates County Public Water system is now formally adopted.
After several months of discussion, the Gates County Board of Commissioners approved an ordinance at their Feb. 15 meeting that set the new water usage rates and fees.
Commissioner Emily Truman made the motion to approve the ordinance. Commission Vice Chair Jonathan Craddock offered a second and the measure was approved without objection.
It was noted that the new rates and fees become effective April 1.
Other than raising the bi-monthly basic usage fee from $24 to $29 (which includes the first 2,000 gallons of water) and the rate for each additional 1,000 gallons of usage after that from $3 to $5, other changes to the fee schedule include the following:
Tap-on-Fee size ¾” from $1,000 to $1,500;
Tap-On Fee size 2″ from $2,250 to $3,000;
Meter Re-Read Fee from no cost to $25;
Meter Test Fee from $15 to $40;
Replace angle valve from $60 to $75;
Replace meter box with lid from $50 to $75; and
Replace meter box lid from $15 to $25.
There are two new fees: an application fee ($25 for residential homeowners/renters; $50 for a new commercial account; and $100 for a new industrial account) plus a security deposit for all new accounts ($50 for residential homeowner; $100 for residential renter; and $100 for new commercial or industrial customers).
The current Impact Fee Water of $1,000 as well as the current Impact Fee Sewer of $1,000 will be rescinded with the new ordinance.
At the January meeting of the commissioners, Gates County Public Utilities Director Brad Arnold said the increased rates were needed just to cover the rising cost of operating the water system.
Dr. Althea Riddick, chair of the county commissioners, agreed with Arnold’s assessment.
“Our [current] water rate is too low and our costs of materials and labor are steadily increasing,” Riddick stated. “We have to build up our Enterprise Fund (fueled by the fees paid by water and sewer customers). We have to show [the state] that we are serious about maintaining our water system. There is a plan to replace all water meters. They are old and not reading accurately.
“This summer there will be a firm coming in to do a comprehensive study of our water rates. But in the meantime we’re trying to demonstrate that Gates County is serious about our infrastructure by maintaining what we’re going to fix. The grant money will hopefully help us fix it, but we have to maintain it for the future,” Riddick concluded.
Craddock, speaking at the January board meeting, said the Gates County water plant produced 329 million gallons of water in 2022. He noted that 156 million gallons were billed for revenue of $1,022,872.95. The rest (52 percent of what was pumped and treated) was lost due to an aging system that is in constant need of repairing leaks.
“We’ve got to do this; our water system has to sustain itself,” Craddock said in support of the rate hikes. “The system does not receive any other funding…just the user fees. We don’t have the money we need to make the repairs. I can’t see us sustaining the water department without raising the rates.”