By Bridgett Lynn

Charlottesville Tomorrow

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

At their meeting last Wednesday, the

Albemarle County Board of Supervisors

heard a quarterly update from

Gary O’Connell

, Executive Director of the

Albemarle County Service Authority (ACSA)

.That agency is responsible for providing public water and sewer service for County homes and businesses.

Listen using player above or download the podcast:

Download 20100602-ACSA

O’Connell used the opportunity to explain the rationale behind higher fees charged to developers for connecting to the ACSA system. For the second year in a row, the ACSA is proposing an increase in two separate fees charged to reimburse the costs of the existing system and to pay for new service capacity.

The first is the development fee collected by ACSA for water and sewer connection which is to be raised by 8 percent. The water connection will increase from $1,640 to $1,772, and the sewer connection from $1,995 to $2,155.

The second is a charge for the developer to “buy-in” to the assets owned by the

Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority (RWSA)

. These fees are to rise by about 2.7 percent; the water capacity charge will be increased from $3,725 to $3,822, and the sewer capacity charge from $2,680 to $2,756.

“[ACSA’s system value is] almost $48 million worth of investment, those connection fees projected this year are a very small portion of that pie,” said finance director Lisa Breeden.  The total amount collected in the connection fees was $836,852 last year.

Executive Director Gary O’Connell

O’Connell also briefed supervisors on the ACSA’s capital improvements program (CIP), which identifies priorities for repairs, rehabilitation, and replacement within our water and sewer systems.

“Over the course of two years, we’ll have about $25 million in capital projects,” said O’Connell. “This is a multiyear project, takes lots of money, lots of studies, lots of effort.”

The ACSA has

25 projects identified

in the agency’s over $15.7 million capital budget for FY 2011. Of the total amount, $2.5 million is for water improvements, and $13.2 million is for wastewater. These projects include the

North Fork Regional Pump Station

, a water and sewer replacement for the Buckingham Circle neighborhood as well as internal improvements.

“We’ll be using bonds to finance [the North Fork Regional Pump Station] as long term financing,” said O’Connell. The project is currently in its design phase, and the ACSA is almost done obtaining easements for the project. The plan for the pump station will go to bid before the end of the summer.

The ACSA proposed a $35 million overall budget for next fiscal year, a 14.8% increase over the current year. The operating budget totals almost $19 million, with additional expenditures related to capital improvement projects for the County’s public sewer facilities.

However, rates paid by county residents for urban water and sewer service will not increase under the budget proposal.

“Nearly two-thirds of our operating budget is the purchase of water and waste water treatment from the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority,” said O’Connell. “We’ve reduced expenses by $335,000 dollars to help balance our budget and to respect the economic times that our customers and we all are in,” said O’Connell.

Albemarle County Board of Supervisors

The proposed budget uses the four-tiered system for water and sewage the ACSA developed over six years ago and updated again last year.

“[The] inclining block rate structure that we use is meant to help promote water conservation by allowing those who conserve more to reduce their monthly water and sewer bills, also makes it more affordable for lower income customers,” said O’Connell.

“I think we have been giving away our water, relatively, for many, many years. We haven’t really appreciated what it does cost as far as how we use it. I’m glad the new tiered system will help people to appreciate the true cost of their behavior especially changing the rates on irrigation,” said Supervisor

Ann Mallek


An ACSA public hearing is

scheduled for this Thursday

on the proposed budget and rates. The budget and rates will be considered for adoption on June 17, 2010.



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