Editorial: Carolina Beach May Raise Water, Sewer Rates 60% On May 10th

By / Editorials / Wednesday, 04 May 2016 04:00

Managing Editor

The Carolina Beach Town Council will consider a proposal to raise customers water and sewer rates by 60% at their upcoming May 10th, meeting. Additionally, they will raise the monthly stormwater fee.
This applies to everyone, both residential and commercial customers. The increases will occur over five years. 11.5% each year for the first three years and then 5% in 2020 and 2021.
The current water availability rate of $13.84 would increase to $15.43 for the first 3,000 gallons of water use in 2016-2017. Over $3,000 gallons the cost per gallon would increase from $0.12 to $0.14.
For sewer, the current rate of $25.01 for the first 3,000 gallons of sewer treatment would increase to $27.89. Above 3,000 per month and the sewer rate of $0.21 per gallon increases to $0.24.
The storm water rate would increase from $9 to $11.
The total for all three is currently $48.19 based on consumption of 3,032 gallons of water and sewer per month.  With the 11.5% increase this year, that total would increase to $54.69.
In 2018, it would increase to $61.72. For 2019, it would be $69.32. In 2020, it would increase by 5% to $73.94 and in 2021, another 5% increase to $76.89.
The total increase would be 60% over a five year period.
The Town will be required to implement these rate increases if they approve selling Revenue Bonds to fund a $57.8 million dollar infrastructure improvement plan. The first part of that will be up for Council approval at their May 10th, meeting. They will consider selling the first series of bonds not to exceed $35 million. Once that's approved, the Town is contracturally obligated to raise utility rates to pay off the debt. There's no second guessing the decision next year or even following the next election if new people are elected to office with differing philosophies about fiscal management.
The Town says they need the money to replace various aging water and sewer lines, improve storm drainage, replace wells as well as other utility related projects. They will also transfer existing traiditional loans into the Revenue Bonds.
Whether you agree or disagree, you should let the Town Council know how you feel about the rate increases.
This will have a long term impact on the affordability of living in Carolina Beach, especially for those on fixed income and those struggling to make ends meet on a lower than living wage each week. Not to mention small business owners, rent prices and many other aspects of daily life.
Perhaps a longer term approach with less annual impact would ease the financial burden on customers.


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