Sper­ryville sewer rate in­crease pro­posed

Rappahannock News - - FRONT PAGE - By Roger Piantadosi Rap­pa­han­nock News staff

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.”

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