Water bills could go up

Published 4:41 am Friday, June 1, 2007

By Staff
Increases proposed in most county districts
News Editor
There’s water, water everywhere — and it might cost more to drink.
That was the message Beaufort County commissioners heard during their latest budget workshop Wednesday night when assistant county manager Jim Chrismon proposed rate increases or taxes for five of the seven districts served here. The good news, Chrismon said, is that things could have been worse.
But they weren’t enough. Chrismon proposed the following water rate changes for the coming fiscal year:
District 1, Washington Township, 8 percent increase
District 2, Long Acre West, including portions of River Road, Slatestone and Betsy Elbow roads, 8 percent increase
District 4, greater Bath area and Pamlico Beach, implement a 2-cent tax
District 5, greater Pantego area, implement a 2-cent tax
District 6, begins at the Pitt County line west of Chocowinity and extends east outside all unincorporated areas of the town along the river and to the southeast on N.C. Highway 306, 8 percent increase
Chrismon proposed no changes in District 3, Long Acre East, and District 7 near Aurora. In the districts where he proposed percentage increases, they amount to about $2 extra on average monthly water bills.
The fiscal year that begins July 1 could mark the third consecutive year that water fees have gone up.
Commissioners’ Chairman Jay McRoy said previous county leaders “had been given some bad information way back there,” and probably should have increased rates sooner.
The incremental increases have helped, according to County Manager Paul Spruill.
District 2 was touted as a “success story” because its water charges could go up for just the first time in three years. The increase would be used to offset the cost of painting tanks. The average rate there could be just over $23, compared to monthly rates near $28 in districts 4, 5 and 6. Rates are affected by how densely populated an area is and how closely together the water lines are installed.
District 7 in the Aurora-Richland area has “probably the best news,” Chrismon said. “That’s not because it’s operating in the black, but because it is climbing out from a $126,000 deficit to an $86,139 deficit,” he said. “They’re slowly creeping up out of the hole.”
Spruill called the availability of county water “a public good,” and Commissioner Stan Deatherage said he’d rather have to pay more for water than do without it.
Commissioners did not act on the rate proposals. Their June 4 meeting will include a public hearing on the proposed budget.