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to provide relief for pool owners by exempting the sewer fees for pool water however, the sewer fee waiver policy was rescinded three years ago when the town launched its fund drive for the new sewage treatment plant.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.