Wilmington eyes new fees for water and sewer
By Mark Baskerville Correspondent January 9, 2013 10:22AM
Updated: February 14, 2013 6:21AM
Turning on the spout will cost more in the coming months in Wilmington.
The Wilmington City Council, faced with the need to pay the cost of water and sewer plant updates, will vote on increasing the cost of service to residents.
Last week, the council heard concerns from citizens during an hour-long public hearing. The goal of the rate increase is to generate enough money to operate both plants, pay for past improvements and build a reserve for future expenses, Mayor Marty Orr said.
The city needs to pay its debt on the new 2007 sewer plant and a $1 million upgrade at the water plant on Widows Road. At the time the loans were taken out, Orr said, the expectation was that new growth in the city would help pay the cost.
The loan was predicated on growth of 25 homes and one commercial/industrial development a year, he said.
“Because we’ve had no growth, that’s the reason our rates went up so dramatically,” Orr said.
While the council made no final decision, it is expected that action will be taken within the next 30 days.
The proposed new rates increase the cost per gallon and also institute a line charge.
The city has been using reserve funds to pay off the loan. The city’s 2,200 users will need to share the cost of the debt, city officials said, with a proposed line charge of between $20 and $30 a month.
“That’s a huge increase to anyone — $30 a month,” Finance Director Robin Theobald said. But the city has used all but $75,000 in reserves. “There’s nothing left to pay for it.”
As proposed, residents will pay $5 for water and $15 to $25 for sewer as a line fee designed to pay the debt, she said. The deciding factor will be the amount of growth the city sees in the coming years, she said.
Orr said that because the analysis that called for the line charge is based on “no growth over the next five years,” any new growth will help reduce that cost.