By Julia Glendening

Charlottesville Tomorrow

Friday, June 19, 2009

On June 18, 2009, the Albemarle County Service Authority (ACSA) reviewed and approved water and sewer rate increases as part of its FY 2010 budget. The ACSA also unanimously approved the year’s budget. The increased rates will go into effect on July 1, 2009 and were first announced on

March 19, 2009

.


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Proposed ACSA water/sewer rates for FY 2010

Some of the changes this year include a decreased rate for single-family residential customers who use less than 3,000 gallons a month. The proposed rate is $3.32 per 1,000 gallons, a 14% decrease from the 2009 price of $3.86. The ACSA would not make money from customers who use less than 3,000 because all of their water would be sold at the same amount it is purchased from the

Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority

(RWSA). According to the

ACSA Rate Study

updated on May 29, 2009, this level will include approximately 40% of customers.

The ACSA has a tiered rate system. Customers in the second tier will be charged $6.64 for every 1,000 gallons they consume over 3,000 gallons a month.  Customers who consume over 6,000 gallons per cycle will be charged $9.96 for every 1,000 gallons.  This year, the ACSA authorized a fourth level to the system which will charge customers $13.28 for every 1,000 gallons they consume over 9,000 gallons. The idea is to encourage conservation through lower prices for those who save water, with higher rates for those who do not.

The wastewater price will be increased from $7 to $7.21 per 1,000 gallons in 2010 for all customers, a 3% increase from the 2009 rate.

During the public hearing, County resident Fred Weinberg asked the ACSA to explain why rates in the County were higher compared to his research of other counties, especially Fairfax. He expressed the need for a comparison of rates between counties and then a public explanation about the reason for higher rates.





ACSA Board members

“As just a public Mr. Joe, I don’t understand. I don’t understand why our sewer rates are so much higher than others. I don’t understand why our water rates are so much higher,” said Weinberg.

ACSA Board member

Jim Colbaugh

(Scottsville) said an “exhaustive” study was conducted over the past six to eight months and said he believed the “structure made sense.” Reasons he listed for the 1.3% increase were to try and keep customers conservative with the incentive of a cheaper rate for using less water and to not burden current customers.

“What we’re really trying to do is honestly charge people what in fact the expenses are going to be for the coming year,” said Colbaugh.

ACSA Board member

Liz Palmer

(Samuel Miller) agreed it would be a good idea to compare counties, especially neighboring counties similar in size to Albemarle. She said Fairfax has lower water rates due to higher connection fees, but the main reason is because Fairfax has a larger number of people on the water system.

Chair

Don Wagner

(Rio) said a possible explanation for higher rates is because ACSA receives no extra money from the County or State and only receives what is collected from citizens for water use.

Vice Chair

Clarence Roberts

(Rivanna) expressed his worry that citizens will experience “rate shock” over the next couple years. He stated the rate study predicts an 8% increase in water rates in 2011, while there will only be a 1.3% increase in 2010. He questioned whether the County should borrow less from their reserves and increase 2010 rates in order to mitigate the much greater 2011 rates.

“I think that the attempt this year was to not burden people because of the economy,” responded Palmer.


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