Editorial: Council To Double Water and Sewer Rates

Editorial: Council To Double Water and Sewer Rates

By / Editorials / Wednesday, 24 February 2016 00:00

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

The Carolina Beach Town Council agreed last week to double water and sewer rates over the next five years. For a family using around 6,000 gallons of water and sewer per month that will equate to paying an estimated additional $1,200 per year.
Also, no more 3,000 per month allocation. You'll be charged for access to the meter and then per 1,000 gallons of water and sewer.
Read the details in the report starting on page 1-A of this week's edition. The graph pretty much spells out how a %10 increase per year each for water and sewer will impact customers. There's also a plan to increase the $9 per month storm water fee by at least a $1 per year.
The Council says the rate hikes are needed to fund $57.8 million dollars of infrastructure improvements including replacing aging water, sewer and storm water lines. Other improvements include a new discharge pipe at the Waste Treatment Plant off Dow Road, repairs to a sewer equalization basin, replacing pumps at sewer lift stations and new wells for drinking water, a 3 million gallon water storage tank, a new 16" storm water forcemain, and dredging the Carolina Beach Lake.
These are all projects that need addressing, but can the customers afford to pay for everything all at one time?
Not likely. Sure, some people have ample room in their personal budgets. Many people already live pay check to pay check or rely on social security retirement or disability checks. They are the ones that will get smacked with a harsh reality. Business owners will have to raise prices to cover the increases.
Several questions come to mind. Is our water unsafe to drink? Are large segments of our sewer system spewing sewage into city streets? Are all of our sewer pump stations ready to collapse?
Point being, there has to be a way to spread the cost of these projects over a term longer than five years rather than committing to issuing Revenue Bonds that lock future administrations into charging such high water and sewer rates.
Once they are raised, there's no way those rates will be reduced in the future.
It's also very disturbing that none of this was brought up prior to the November 2015 election for Mayor and two Council seats.
At least voters could have had a say in the matter. Now, it's unlikely the Council will change their minds and once the bonds are issued, it's a done deal. 

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