Public hearing set for PSA water, sewer rate increases

By Allen Worrell -

The Carroll County Public Service Authority (PSA) will conduct a public hearing on September 12 on proposed water rate and sewer rate increases.

The PSA voted unanimously during its July 11 meeting to advertise in August for the public hearing, which is set to be heard at 3 p.m. or as soon thereafter in the Board Meeting Room of the Carroll County Governmental Complex. For residential water customers, the proposed rate increase would change the minimum monthly payment from $24 to $28 per month for up to 2,000 gallons.

Proposed commercial water rate increases are as follows: Commercial Water 8 and Commercial Water 14 ($37.20 minimum for up to 4,000 gallons, next 6,000 gallons $6.60 per 1,000 gallons, next 90,000 gallons $4.62 per 1,000 gallons, all over 100,000 gallons $4.05 per 1,000 gallons); Industrial Water 11 ($64.84 minimum for up to 4,000 gallons, next 6,000 gallons $6.20 per 1,000 gallons, next 90,000 gallons $5.30 per 1,000 gallons, all over 100,000 gallons $4.66 per 1,000 gallons); Industrial Water 13 ($58.94 minimum for up to 2,000 gallons, all over 2,000 gallons $6.20 per 1,000 gallons). The non-user water rate would also increase from a minimum of $24 to $28.

Proposed sewer rate increases to be heard at the Sept. 12 public hearing are as follows: Commercial Sewer 9, 14 and 18 rates will increase to a $35 minimum for up to 2,000 gallons, with all over 2,000 gallons costing $8.50 per 1,000 gallons. The Industrial Sewer 11 rate would increase to a minimum of $101.01 for up to 2,000 gallons, and all over 2,000 gallons would be $7.12 per 1,000 gallons.

PSA member Keith Meredith said the rate committee discussed rate increases for the past two or three months. It’s a tough decision any time you start talking about raising rates, he said. But after much consideration, he said a couple of factors weighed on the committee’s mind in asking for the increase.

“One being we haven’t had an increase (since 2009), and over that time there have been a lot of cost increases on a lot of factors. For us I think one of the key factors in raising the rates is to become grant eligible for projects and consideration,” Meredith said. “In order to be able to apply for and receive the grants, we have to meet a certain criteria that we do not set. We understand the rate increase would be a requirement to obtain funding for projects. With that being said, (PSA member) James (Light) and I discussed it. We would propose a rate increase, a public hearing set forth to address the rate increase that we propose. And it would not only address the water rates, but also the sewer rates. It is not just something tongue in cheek because I know there is a lot of citizens hurting right now, but I feel it is a necessary evil.”

Light said now the PSA must hold its public hearing and decide if it wants to do the entire increase at once or do it gradually.

“In a nutshell there are two big reasons for this,” PSA Chairman Dr. Tom Littrell said. “Number one the cost for the PSA in doing business has increased over the last seven years, and also if we do not raise the rates to some level then we will never be eligible for grants in the future for future projects.”

Meredith then made a motion to set the public hearing for Sept. 12 at 3 p.m. with advertisements going on in August. Doug Winesett seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.

PSA Assistant Director Dana Phillips said the PSA is trying to get sewer rates even as well. Through the years there have been several different rates, but the proposed changes would streamline things so there would be just one rate each for commercial and industrial.

“There was at least one deal where we were losing money, turning around and selling it to Hillsville for sewer,” Light said. “There were some bad deals made.”

Meredith said part of that is the reason for the rate increases.

“We are not looking to make money on the sewer. Hillsville has had two rate increases since we have raised our rates, so we are actually paying Hillsville more right now than we receive,” Meredith said.

Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN

By Allen Worrell