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PSA board approves water rate increase

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

The Henry County Public Service Authority board of directors unanimously approved rate increases Monday night after holding a public hearing in which speakers expressed objections.

Josephine Biggs of the Ridgeway District asked the PSA board to do something to help elderly people who use small amounts of water. A lot of older folks who live alone use small amounts of water, she said.

“I’m just one of many. I can’t believe not many are here” at the public hearing, she said.

Biggs said, “I know we (elderly) get a discount,” but said she thought it was inadequate for people like her.

Leonard Hall, who said he lives on Mount Olivet Road in the Collinsville District, also expressed concerns about the rate increase. “If we are going to pay additional fees, what are we going to get” in terms of improved water quality? he asked. “On our street, it’s not that great.”

He said he has lived on the road for more than 20 years, has had a problem with mold growth around faucets and in toilets, and has been told by PSA officials over the years that it was the result of stagnant water.

“I don’t mind paying an increase if I get quality for what I pay for,” he said.

He also said Henry County’s PSA residential water rates are higher than some surrounding counties he has researched.

After the public hearing, the PSA board approved the rate increases.

Board chairman Gerald Lawicki of the Iriswood District said Biggs’ concern about trying to help elderly people who use small amounts of water will be looked at as part of the process of developing a PSA budget for the fiscal year that will start July 1, 2014 (fiscal year 2014-15). County Administrator Tim Hall said some research already has been done and more will be done.

PSA officials said the PSA will look into Leonard Hall’s concern about mold.

With no rate increases, the PSA’s projected cash position (as of June 30) is expected to decline from $4,058,448 in fiscal year 2013 (the current year), to $3,031.961 in FY 2014, to $1,930,920 in FY 2015, to $505,991 in FY 2016, to minus $1,209,950 in FY 2017 to minus $2,900,456 in FY 2018, according to a report by Draper Aden Associates of Charlottesville. The firm was commissioned by the PSA to conduct a rate study.

Residential water and sewer rates each will increase from the current $26 a month to $30 a month for up to 4,000 gallons of water and up to 4,000 gallons of sewer, according to PSA documents. Sewer is based on the amount of water consumed.

That means residential customers will pay a minimum of $60 a month for 4,000 gallons (or less) use of water and sewer rather than the current combined water/sewer monthly rate of $52 ($26 for each water and sewer).

Residential customers will pay $4.70 a month, up from the current $4 a month, for every additional 1,000 gallons above the minimum for each water and sewer. If a customer uses 5,000 gallons a month, which is 1,000 gallons over the minimum, that customer will pay $69.40 a month.

Residential customers on the PSA’s senior citizen/disabled discount will see that discount rise from $5 a month to $7 a month for water and for sewer. That means their base bill will increase $2 a month for each service, from the current $21 a month for each service to $23 a month for each service.

Rates for commercial customers will increase from the current $39 a month to $45 a month (based on 4,000 gallons a month) for each water and sewer.

For every 1,000 gallons over that minimum, the commercial customer will pay an additional $7 for each water and sewer. Currently, commercial customers pay an additional $6 a month for every 1,000 gallons over the minimum per service.

Rates for institutional customers, such as county and other governmental offices, will increase from the current $59.50 a month to $68.50 a month for each water and sewer (each based on 6,000 gallons a month). Institutional customers will pay an additional $8.10 for every 1,000 gallons over the minimum 6,000 gallons for water and $8.10 for sewer. Currently institutional customers pay $7 per month for every 1,000 gallons above the minimum for each water and sewer, according to PSA documents.

Water connection fees will increase from the current $800 to $1,000 for a three-quarter-inch connection and to $1,200 for a one-inch connection. All larger connections will be charged “at cost.”

Sewer connection fees will increase from the current $800 to $1,000 for a four-inch connection and to $1,200 for a six-inch connection.

Facility fees for each water and sewer will increase for a three-quarter-inch meter from the current $500 to $750, and for a one-inch meter from the current $1,250 to $1,500.

The rate increases approved Monday night will take effect June 1, 2013. “We bill a month behind, and that would allow us to start receiving an increase on July 1,” Tim Hall said previously.

In other business, the PSA board:

• Adopted a budget for fiscal year 2013-14 that, according to the Henry County government website, totals $12,063,969, including $3,906,930 in capital projects. This compares to a FY ’13 proposed budget of $14,885,339, which included $6,969,366 in capital projects,

• Heard a report that the upper Smith River water treatment plant recently received the 2012 silver water treatment plant performance award for excellence in filtration and clarification. The award was from the Virginia Department of Health Office of Drinking Water.

 

 
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