CARY – Village officials are looking at adjusting water and sewer rates – a small, initial decrease followed by annual increases.
Trilogy Consulting reviewed four years’ worth of expenditures, and projected expenses and revenues for the next five years in recommending a rate structure to keep the system in good condition.
It recommended a decrease of 0.38 percent for the average water and sewer user starting next month, and then in May beginning 3 percent annual increases to the rate to cover anticipated costs.
The village expects water consumption to continue to decrease and plateau in 2016.
There are more people using low-flow water devices at home and foreclosures have left more empty houses.
As part of the fees is a user fee that is in place to help pay for having a meter at a customer’s residence. The fee is currently $2 a month.
There is some debate on whether to stick with a flat, $2-a-month fee for a residential meter or whether a user fee should be based on consumption.
There are some people who leave town for an extended amount of time, and come in and ask, “Why do I have a bill when I’m not using water?” Village Administrator Chris Clark said.
People receive utility bills in the village every other month.
“Cary would not like to have sudden spikes in rates,” Clark said. Village Board members also would prefer not to take on debt to pay for capital improvements, he said.
The proposed 3 percent annual increases are meant to maintain a healthy balance of money in the water and sewer funds, Clark said.
The village will continue to look outside, such as to state grants, to fund projects.
“At the end of the day, we need to invest in our infrastructure to provide water when needed,” Clark said.
The consultants found that the water and sewer funds, which are enterprise funds, are in good shape and will help pay for future capital projects.
In their report, they said the village has budgeted for future repairs and maintenance, including water tower maintenance, well maintenance and replacement of water mains.
Engineer Gregory Droessler recommended budgeting $20,000 a year for a planned system upgrade, including costs for engineering in the water main replacement program. He recommended increasing the amount budgeted to replace the water main at Margaret Terrace and James Way.
Between $9,000 to $13,000 a year is budgeted for the first three years of the capital improvement plan for equipment replacement at the village’s wastewater treatment plant. The village should budget at least $50,000 a year for that, Droessler wrote.
The village also should consider increasing budgeted amounts for wastewater pumping station equipment replacements, he wrote.