Water billing discussed

Published 6:52 pm Wednesday, October 25, 2017

A Kenbridge resident and members of the Kenbridge Town Council discussed concerns related to water billing during Tuesday’s Town Council meeting.

Darlene Brown of Kenbridge said she is the only occupant at her home. She noted that her neighbor’s home has five occupants. She said she has to pay the same amount for her water bill as her neighbor.

“I understand there is a base pay, I get that,” Brown said, noting that she pays about $77 for the bill and said her neighbors pay a similar rate. “But it daaoesn’t seem fair that I’m paying the same amount as my neighbor.”

              Emory Hodges

Hodges said the water and sewer rates have risen in the past few years due to the town receiving grants for replacing the town’s sewer lines, renovations being completed in November for pump station repairs and rehabilitation.

“We don’t really have a lot of control over the minimum water bill,” Hodges said.

“We’ll be happy to have the town department investigate your water bill and their water bill,” Hodges said.

Charleen Baylor, of Kenbridge, who spoke earlier in the meeting, asked Hodges to clarify about having no control over the minimum water rates.

“What is happening, every time we receive a grant, they mandate to us what our water and sewer rates have to be. We receive money from the state for a grant for a new water and

sewer line and they said ‘we’ll give you the money for the grant, but here’s what your minimum water and sewer rates have to be,’” Hodges said.

Brown noted that her water bill has increased within the last year in addition to increasing over a few years, saying it has risen in increments of approximately $2 over several months.

“When you keep adding in those two dollars, I mean that’s quite a bit, and that’s a lot of money to pay in a small town as Kenbridge for water,” Brown said.

“I never mind paying for my water. I don’t mind paying for any of my bills. But what I do have a problem with is that if I’m going to pay the same amount as someone with five people in their household, then it doesn’t seem as though to me there’s a base,” Brown said.

Hodges noted her and other town members’ frustration.

“It’s kind of a Catch-22” he said, noting that the rates were dependent on the grants they received from the state, and that it would be difficult to deny state funds.

Brown also asked whether the allocations given to the state were grants or loans.

Council members described the allocation as both.

“You’re having to raise the rate,” Council member Daniel Thompson said. “That’s the amount it’s going to take to pay for this new loan which you just took out.”

Town Manager Robyn Fowler said the minimum gallons of water and price for a household is  $15.15 for 3,000 gallons. Once the household exceeds the gallon limit, Fowler said the price is $5.50 for each gallon that is used above the minimum.