Majority will pay an additional $2.30 per month
Most Union County residents will see a slight increase in their water bills starting next year. County commissioners voted 3 to 2, with Tracy Kuehler and Kim Rogers in opposition, to adopt the water rates as proposed by the county’s Public Works department last month.
Rates for most residents will rise 7 percent this year, then 3.5 percent for each of the next two years. An average family who uses roughly 3,000 gallons of water per month will pay $1.90 per 1,000 gallons used this year, then see that increase to $1.95 in 2013. For residents in the upper tiers of the system, who use between 3,001 and 10,000 gallons per month, that bill will climb five cents each year.
Those who use between 10,000 and 15,000 gallons will see a $5.70 per 1,000 gallons used bill this year, then $5.75 in 2013 and $5.85 in 2014. Those who use more than 10,000 gallons per month will pay a $10.10 bill by 2014. All of the rates go up if there is a stage two, three or four drought during that period.
For commercial and other nonresidential customers, they will pay a flat rate of $2.60 in 2012, which will increase once to $2.70 in 2013.
Some commissioners questioned why there was a unanimous vote to do the rate study, but not to adopt the recommendations.
“(I’m) not exactly sure what was the intent of a rate study if there’s not gonna be an acceptance of the rates suggested,” county commission vice chair Todd Johnson said. “Now when it comes time to decide how to pay (for improvements) and make plans, a couple of board members voted against that rate. Everybody on this board talks about commercial growth, but we have to have the infrastructure in place.”
Customers that have a fire service or fire sprinkler connection will be charged an annual fee of $100. Any actual usage of the sprinkler will be charged at the residential rate. Residents or businesses connecting as new customers to the system will also be charged a one time fee that varies based on the size of the meter. That ranges from $1,200 to $9,300 for commercial pipes.
Most customers, according to Public Works officials, would fall under the 4,000 gallons or less tier each month. Those residents would see roughly a $2.30 increase to their water bill. Across Union County, 75 percent of Public Works customers are billed at 7,000 gallons or less of water and sewer each month. At 7,000 gallons, a customer would see a total increase of $3.95 per month on their bill.
“I didn’t vote for it because, long story short, the wrong people were paying for it under that plan,” county commissioner Tracy Kuehler said. Reached after the meeting, Kuehler explained that she had a problem with residential customers paying for new infrastructure, that in her opinion, would mostly be used by commercial businesses.
“It’s easy to sit here and vote for or against something,” county commissioner Jonathan Thomas said, questioning why the two members who voted against didn’t present any alternatives of their own. “It’s a lot harder to offer recommendations and alternatives. If you’re not gonna support something, at least make some suggestions.”
The new rates go into effect March 1.