Editorial: Voice Your Opinion To Council On Rate Increases

By / Editorials / Wednesday, 06 April 2016 04:00

Managing Editor

The Carolina Beach Town Council agreed in February 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.
Not everyone uses 6,000 gallons a month, so for a 5/8 or 3/4 inch meter - which is typical for residential meters - if you use 4,000 gallons in a month, by 2021 the cost for water and sewer would be about $167.00. That's not including storm water, trash and recycling which are all included in the monthly utility bill.
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.
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.
Voice your opinion to the Council during their April 12th, meeting. Let them know why you like or dislike the planned increases before you get a bill in the mail.
With such large rate increases perhaps it's time to get in the business of selling dry flush toilets and rain barrels.
This will have an impact on the cost of doing business. Hotels, restaurants and other businesses will have to adapt to the increased expense of serving their customers in terms of water and sewer use.
For large businesses that's more easily absorbed, but for smaller businesses such as a coffee shop or small family owned restaurant or hotel, the cost of washing dishes, drinking water, laundry and bathroom use will increase. The cost will rise and the profits will shrink.


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