Rate change affects everyone

Editor,

I’m neither for or against the new water and sewer rates but do wish people to know the rate increase will impact all users, even those of us with minimal usage.

I have read in the papers that the Tier 1 rate covering the first 3000 gallons of usage has actually been lowered from $2.10 currently to $1.90 for 2012 and then increased slightly to $1.95 for 2013 and 2014. To me that’s a marketing ploy, typical of what you see every day of the week via your local newspaper, TV or radio commercial. I don’t understand why the County thinks they need to do that.

On the first 3000 gallons of consumption that’s a total reduction of 45 cents per month the first year and 30¢ per month in the second and third years versus the current 2011 rate.

What no one is mentioning however is the “Water Base Charge”, which all users pay, will increase from $5.00 per month currently, to $6.00 in 2012 followed by $6.10 in 2013 and $6.20 in 2014. That gives “water only” users a net increase of 55 cents per month in 2012 followed by an 80 cents per month increase in 2013 and 90 cents per month increase in 2014 on the first 3000 gallons of usage. The actual percentage increase is higher if you use less than 3000 gallons of water because of the fixed water base charge.

To me, the County could just as well have left the Tier 1 rate alone and eased off a bit on the ($1.00, $1.10 and $1.20) monthly increases in the “Water Base Charge” but then I guess that’s marketing 101 at work to show the right hand giveth while the left hand taketh.

For those of us that have both water and sewer service the Tier 1 impact is even greater because of the increase in sewer usage charges as well.

The current sewer rate is $3.30 per 1000 gallons of consumption up to a maximum of 12,000 gallons of water usage per month. In 2012 this increases to $3.75 per 1000. Then in 2013 and 2014 the rate jumps to $4.05 and $ 4.40 per 1000 respectively. Thus the increase in sewer cost to the homeowner using 3000 gallons per month will be $1.35 per month in 2012, $2.25 per month in 2013 and $3.30 per month in 2014.

Combining the Water Base Charge with the increased Sewer rate and subtracting out the Tier 1 water reduction means the homeowner using only 3000 gallons per month will see monthly increases of $1.90 in 2012 followed by $3.05 in 2013 and $4.20 in 2014 over their current rate schedule for 2011.

These monthly increases add up to annual increases of $22.80 in 2012, $36.60 in 2013 and $50.40 in 2014 for the homeowner on both Union County water and sewer service that consumes about 3000 gallons of water per month. The water rates of course are higher for users that monthly consume water in Tiers 2, 3, 4 and 5 which are each up 7 to 8 and a half percent over three years. By year 2014 you may expect to be paying about 14 to 16 percent or even more for water and sewer service than you currently pay.

Based on what we’ve observed via this rate increase, the waste water processing cost for sewer service have grown at a much faster rate than the cost for obtaing and treating potable water. As the search for increased water supply from Anson/Stanly Counties and increased capacity from the Catawba via the Van Wyck plant come on line that may change. Still this three year 33% increase in sewer charges is nothing to be sneezed at, particularly when you consider the people that irrigate during the growing season currently pay for up to 8000 gallons per month in sewer charges that are never used.

George Hendry

Union County

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