The Rappahannock County Water & Sewer Authority plans a public hearing at 7 p.m. next Thursday (June 12) at the county courthouse on its proposed increase to wastewater system rates for residential and business customers in the village of Sperryville.
The proposed increase from $102 to $120 per quarter for each equivalent dwelling unit — most residential customers are charged for a single EDU to use the system; some businesses require more — would be the second annual increase in as many years. Last year, the authority raised its quarterly rates from $85.50 to $102.
Other changes to the authority’s regulations under consideration at the June 12 hearing involve changes to connection and other fees.
Authority member Keir Whitson said Monday the increases are part of the authority’s multi-year plan for long-term financing and short-term maintenance of the Sperryville treatment plant, which will turn 30 next year.
“We generally break even with the funds allocated to operations and maintenance,” Whitson said of the Sperryville plant, which employs one full-time and one part-time operator. “In 2014 and 2015 we will be inspecting all seven of our tanks, and considering the plant’s age, the near- to mid-term maintenance plan may include possible replacement of auxiliary equipment, tanks and general rehab.
“The modest rate increase last year and this year are to allow us to do so without having to take on debt,” Whitson said. “We’re debt free, and we’re trying to ensure we’ll have sufficient funds to maintain the plant into the future.”
In 2012, the authority more than doubled the fees it charges the town of Washington and the Rappahannock County Public Schools, for which it contractually performs water-related (in Washington) and water/sewer services. Like the Sperryville sewer rates, those fees had not changed in about a decade.
One of the Sperryville plant’s holding tanks was damaged during Hurricane Sandy in 2012; the authority managed to repair it for about $20,000, instead of having to replace it for an estimated $200,000.
Sperryville resident Ruth Kiger, who was once a member of the authority board, said Monday she’s planning a meeting tomorrow (Friday, June 6) with Piedmont district supervisor Mike Biniek to discuss the rate increase, and said any other Sperryville residents interested in joining the meeting should call her at 540-987-3348.
“I think there are a number of other ways of getting done what needs to be done,” Kiger said, “than raising the rates like this.”