The Stokes County commissioners discussed proposed rate increases for the Danbury Water System at their meeting last week.
County Manager Rick Morris presented the board with a breakdown of current rates and proposed rates. Under the proposed changes, the basic monthly service fee for water would continue to be $23 for up to 3,000 gallons but would increase for residential and small business customers from $5.75 to $6.75 per 1,000 gallons used above 3,000. For institutional or industrial customers, the rate per 1,000 gallons above 3,000 would increase from $5.75 to $8.75. The availability fee would increase from $13 to $14 per month.
The only proposed change to sewer rates would be an increase from $5 to $5.75 per 1,000 gallons used above the 3,000 for residential and small business customers. The basic monthly service fee would remain at $14.
Looking at the proposed water rate increase for institutional and industrial customers, Commissioner Jimmy Walker said, “That’s large.”
“It’s needed,” Morris replied.
Walker said he was concerned that if an industry wanted to locate in Danbury “that would be a deterrent,” but Morris did not think so. Walker said he wished there was more balance, but Morris pointed out the many improvements to the system and that this would be the first increase since 2008. The increase would help the system be self-sustaining.
Last year the county commissioners approved an upgrade to the water system in Danbury, which included various system improvements and a new water tank. The water system was also cleaned out using the relatively new “ice pigging” system. According to the county manager, information was provided to the board during the budget work sessions last year that a rate increase for the Danbury Water System would be implemented during the 2012-13 fiscal year.
Noting that the system is in much better shape now, Walker said, “I don’t like rate increases, but I can see your case for it.”
Commissioner James Booth pointed out that the changes for residential and small business customers would not be that big. Morris explained that institutional customers would be the county and hospital.
Commissioner Ronda Jones said it was a big spike for institutions, but on the flip side, it would prompt people to conserve more water.
Morris said he could gather figures on average usage by institutional users. The item will placed on the action agenda at the next county commissioner meeting.