Columbia aldermen raise utility rates 20.5%

Published 11:55 am Wednesday, July 8, 2020

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The Columbia Board of Aldermen on June 29 adopted the town government’s 2021 budget, which, among other things, raises water and sewer rates by 20.5%.

Town Manager Rhett White said he proposed the utilities increase “in response to the loss of our two largest customers and more than 50% of our water/sewer revenues. This increase is necessary to assure that the enterprise fund will remain in the black by covering the full costs of operations. Even so, money must be appropriated from the fund balance to balance the Water/Sewer Budget.”

The largest customers White referred to were Whitecap Linen Service and Tyrrell Prison Work Farm.

The property tax rate remains unchanged at 60.1 cents per $100 valuation, but only an appropriation from fund reserves made it possible to keep the rate the same.

All town employees were granted 2% salary increases.

The tax rate was based on a $43.45 million valuation of all taxable property inside the town and the expectation that 94% of the tax bills will be paid before next June 30.

Total General Fund revenues and expenditures are budgeted at $851,613, and the balanced Water/Sewer Fund totals are $687,944.

The spending plan went into effect July 1.

During the June 29 session White reported that the town had recently received $54,980 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency as reimbursement for money the town spent on repairs to town property following Hurricane Dorian last September. He expects another check for $57,230 soon. The expenses incurred for were for repairs lights on the Scuppernong River bridge, street surfaces, drainage pipes, and town-owned building roofs.