Water, sewer fees to go up in Heights
By Blake Belden, Staff Writer
May 23, 2014, 13:09
COLONIAL HEIGHTS — Starting in July, residents and businesses in Colonial Heights will pay an increased water and sewer utility rate given that the City Council adopts the general fund budget as it currently exists.
Following a first reading of the ordinance, the City Council voted unanimously to adopt the water and sewer fund budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2014, and ending on June 30, 2015, which includes an increase of approximately $1 per month on existing utility rates.
A primary goal of the increase in the utility rate is to conserve water in the region, which would not be achieved through cheaper consumption of water, as well as trying to make the revenues earned more equitable to the amount of water being consumed, according to William Johnson, the city’s director of finance.
The rate structure that has been recommended for Colonial Heights is based on a five-year period, through 2019, with a 2 percent increase in the water rate and a 2.5 percent increase in the sewer rate each year.
When comparing the residential and business sectors of Colonial Heights, residential water customers previously provided 67 percent of water consumption, and at the same time provided more than 75 percent of the utility’s revenues, which was “not equitable,” Johnson said when he presented a study during a council meeting on April 29.
“In essence, the ones that are larger consumers that aren’t paying their equitable share now will be under this rate structure, such as some of the businesses that ... consume more of the water than what they’re paying for,” said Mayor C. Scott Davis.
This new utility rate is estimated to pull an annual revenue of $4.4 million, all of which is intended for operating expenses related to water and sewer utility services. Of the total expected revenues, $1.46 million is allocated for water distribution, $2.7 million will go toward utility billing, and $250,004 will be used for wastewater treatment, as written in the Water and Sewer Fund Appropriation ordinance.
Davis said that this is an enterprise fund, which is supposed to generate revenues to sustain itself, rather than using money from the general fund.
A public hearing was held for the increase in utility rates on April 29, at which point no one from the community spoke in regard to this ordinance.