Council waits on rates

Published 1:01 am Thursday, October 13, 2011

Washington’s City Council wants more time to study a proposal to change the city’s water and sewer rate schedules before possibly adopting those changes.

After discussing the proposal at its meeting Monday, the council tabled the matter until its Nov. 14 meeting.

The changes, with a proposed effective date of Jan. 1, 2012, largely would affect the city’s largest water and sewer customers, according to city officials. Most residential customers would not see an increase in their water and sewer charges, according to City Manager Josh Kay.

Kay said three or four of the city’s largest users of water and sewer services likely would see their water and sewer costs increase from 6 percent to 8 percent. Six or seven other large users of water and sewer services likely would see their water and sewer costs increase by about a half percent, he noted.

Kay said the proposed changes to the water and sewer rates are a result of a requirement imposed on the city by the state to implement a conservation-based rate structure.

“Essentially, what you have currently, is you have two blocks in your water and sewer rates. One block, in a certain sense, is for 50,000 cubic feet and below and another rate, a lower rate, for 50,000 cubic feet and above,” Kay told the council Monday. “The new rate structure that staff is presenting to you tonight is essentially a flat-rate structure with one rate for all … the same rate as is currently in the 50,000 cubic feet and below. We believe there’s been some analysis that shows the majority of our customers will see no effect.”

Council members indicated they delayed action on the proposal, in part, so the city could inform customers who use large amounts of water about the impending rate changes before the council votes on the proposal. Councilman Doug Mercer expressed concerns with how the changes could affect University Health Systems — Beaufort Hospital, Flanders Filters and other large consumers of water and sewer services.

Kay said the city is more than willing to work with its large water customers to help them find ways to reduce their water consumption and associated costs.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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