Town of Berryville to Hold Public Hearing on Sewer Rate Increase

The Town of Berryville has scheduled a public hearing for Tuesday May 10th to receive comments on the proposed rate increase for sewer fees. While the hearing is a mandatory part of the process, the rate increase is for all intents and purposes, a foregone conclusion.

The scheduled increase is part of a long term “business plan” that the town was forced to commit to in order to qualify for loans to pay for the new sewage treatment plant. The proposed increase is the second in four consecutive years of rate hikes that will be needed to retire the debt incurred by the new facility.

The new rate will increase $1.50 to $14.00 per thousand gallons and would go into effect in July. However last years increase did not actually appear on bills until September. Rates will continue to rise for the next two years, barring a huge rise in the tap fees the town receives, which have all but evaporated.

Future rate hikes include:

  • July 2012 $1.50 to $15.50 an increase of 10.7%
  • July 2013 $1.50 to $17.00 an increase of 9.6%

The town has also drafted a new policy to address a disparity in fee structure that allowed out of town water haulers to purchase bulk water for significantly less than residents. Last July as a result of a story in the Clarke Daily News the town was made aware of the disparity which allowed businesses based in other jurisdictions to connect to the Berryville municipal water system and pump water to sell for bulk deliveries for significantly less than residents pay. Those businesses were charged only the water fee of $6.57 per thousand gallons.   (see “Water Haulers Draw Cheap Pool Water in Berryville“). However residents who use the same water from the same system for bulk use such as swimming pools were charged the water fee and the sewer fee. In the past, Berryville’s policy was to provide relief for pool owners by exempting the sewer fees for pool water however, the sewer fee waiver policy was rescinded three years ago when the town launched its fund drive for the new sewage treatment plant.

At this month’s meeting the town will roll-out a draft of a new policy addressing hydrant use in the town and part of that draft is that water haulers will be required to pay water and sewer fees to pump town water.   When the new rate increase is passed, residents and water haulers will pay $20.07 per thousand gallons.

The public hearing will be held   Tuesday night at the monthly town Council meeting at the Town/ County Municipal center at 7:30PM. The Council will also hear citizens comments on the Town Budget and the proposed changes to the Town’s ward redistricting map.

Comments

  1. as if the Clarke County water and sewer bill isn’t high enough!!! As well as the fact that the assumption is made that every ounce of water exiting my tap is entering my sewer lines! Another increase? Outrageous!!!

  2. Bubba D says:

    Meanwhile, how many employers have given their employees a rate increase? Cost of living increase? More than likely, the majority of people are in fact making less than what they made 5-7 years ago.

    No use complaining though. Increases are something our town leaders and utility providers seem to decide to increase without asking for much advance public input. The decision has been made.

  3. Stonebroke says:

    Good one! A public hearing on a foregone conclusion. Too Funny!

  4. I am so sick of the TOWN and COUNTY taking and taking. They don’t seem to have any kind of plan to help with taxes, other than build additional housing clusters that require more infa-structure. WHEN will our goverment leaders get it through their thick heads. You can’t expect the home owners to keep footing your tax/service increases. WE are blessed with a bunch of numskulls in our local goverments. VOTE “EM” OUT people. That is the only way we will get a change in thinking. “VOTE THEM OUT”!!!!!
    The defintion of “INSANE” is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results

  5. Richie Blick says:

    First and foremost I think we in fact have very good tap water here. I also apploud the fast responce of town staff to problems like the water main breaks. However, I think it is time for a forensic accounting of this department made public before any increases occur. Line by line analysis if you will. Add in – Where is the Verizon Wireless money going from the new industrial park tower lease? Fairgrounds tower lease money? How can the department make additional money to offset rising costs? Somebody told me recently that Berryville had the or one of the highest water/sewer rates in the country. I am not sure how true this is but it sure feels like it. I know that I live in here town. We do not waste that much water. We have a tankless water heater, 2-stage push button toilets, front loading washing machine, we use a newer dishwasher every other day and water a small garden some in the summer. But for a family, it is already way too high. I feel for the retired people and people on fixed incomes. Plus, where is my discount for spending the money to be more efficient… only to be hit by monthly bills instead of bi-monthly, then STEADY higher and higher rates offsetting what I spent to use less. I pay now in 1 month what I used to pay in two. Having said that I am all for improvements and for paying my fair share. Time to dig a personal well! Lastly, for someone developing a vacant lot the tap fee’s are approaching $28,000 (I think) just to to hook into the water/sewer system.

  6. Richie Blick says:

    I wish I could have made it to the meeting. As usual, I could not. I wish they (Berryville and Clarke County) would allow online public comments to be entered instead of in person. With all due respect, they would get an ear full!