By Sean Tubbs
Friday, June 17, 2011
Albemarle County Service Authority
has adopted a budget that does not increase water and sewer rates for its customers.
“This is the second year that we’re not increasing the monthly water and sewer rates,” said ACSA Executive Director
“We’ve done some financial planning over the last couple of years to try to put ourselves in a position with the economy slowing down to be able to operate on the same rates,” O’Connell added.
On Thursday, the ACSA Board of Directors unanimously approved a $30.4 million budget for fiscal year 2012. That amount includes a $10.6 million capital improvement program.
All ACSA residential customers pay a monthly service charge based on the size of their connection, and are billed according to a tiered pricing structure.
Customers will continue to pay $3.31 per 1,000 gallons for the first 3,000 gallons of water used. That increases to $6.62 per 1,000 gallons for the next 3,000, and $9.93 per 1,000 gallons after that.
Consumption over 9,000 gallons a month is charged at $13.24 per 1,000 gallons.
The sewer rate will remain $7.21 per 1,000 gallons.
While rates did not increase, the ACSA did continue its trend of raising the fees for new water and sewer connections.
“We do have an overall 6 percent increase in our connection and buy-in fees,” said Lisa Breeden, the ACSA’s finance director.
Developers pay the ACSA two separate fees to allow the organization to recoup the cost of building the existing water and sewer system. A system development fee allows the new connection to “buy-in” to the ACSA’s existing infrastructure, and the other goes to pay for facilities operated by the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority.
The system development fee for each water connection will remain the same at $1,772, but the RWSA fee for sewer will increase by 3 percent to $3,940 per connection.
For sewer connections, the system development fee will rise 12 percent to $2,404 and the RWSA capacity fee by 9 percent to $2,998.
Connection fees are projected to increase next year as well, according to Breeden. That concerned Neil Williamson of the
Free Enterprise Forum
, the only speaker at the public hearing for the budget.
“I understand the goals of the authority, but it’s important to note that at some point you will see a reduced demand as you increase fees,” Williamson said. “The reality is the market can only take so much.”
On Monday, the
Charlottesville City Council
will vote on water and sewer rates for its customers. City utility staff have recommended a 0.28 percent increase for water rates and a 5.08 percent increase for sewer rates for fiscal year 2012.
In other business at the meeting, O’Connell said the ACSA’s contract with
to design a new earthen dam at Ragged Mountain came in slightly under budget. The authority agreed to pay up $869,000, but the bill so far has come to $840,270.
O’Connell also said his staff is still negotiating with city utilities staff on a new cost-share agreement for capital projects being undertaken by the RWSA.
“We’re a little behind schedule, but I think if both of us can try to get things settled over the next 30 or 40 days … we can go to bid late this summer and construction early in the fall,” O’Connell said.