Farmville Proposes Rate Hike

Published 4:49 pm Thursday, October 20, 2011

FARMVILLE – Town Council has unanimously voted to advertise proposed water/sewer rate increases that would take effect with the February 2012 bill.

If adopted, it would mark the second consecutive year the Town of Farmville will have raised those rates.

During their discussion of the issue, Town officials stressed that Farmville's water and sewer rates remain among the lowest in the state for a town its size.

Ironically, council's action came last Wednesday during its regular October monthly meeting, a day before the Town announced its abrupt withdrawal from regional water authority negotiations with Prince Edward County, citing concerns Farmville residents would be forced to pay “multiple” and “unnecessary” water and sewer rate increases in such an authority.

The water authority's “debt will be structured so as not to require rate increases for current Town utility customers or a tax increase for County or Town residents,” the Town and County's joint statement declared when the negotiations were unveiled in late spring.

Four months before they unexpectedly ended.

Town Manager Gerald Spates introduced the proposed water and sewer rate and connection fee hikes last week saying, “we talked about this for about the last six or seven months and our rates for our water and sewer need to be increased, periodically, and we would like to ask council to go ahead and advertise for this rate increase.

“It would not be effective until the February billing…Keep in mind this is bi-monthly, every two months,” Spates said.

Town Council member Sally Thompson responded to the proposal Wednesday night, saying, “And, Gerry, when was our last increase?”

“This January, but we knew at that time we were going to have to increase it (again),” Spates answered.

“We had kind of indicated last year,” council member Dr. Edward I. Gordon said, “that we were going to need to review it yearly because we were so low.”

And, Ms. Thompson added, “the chart shows we are way below the average of most towns our size, way below.”

Last year, Dr. Gordon said, “we were like third from the bottom and it effects our grant capability should that ever come up…”

The following day, last Thursday, the Town issued a press release announcing its withdrawal from negotiations with the County on a regional water authority and stated as part of its justification that, “The merger of the water and sewer assets owned by Prince Edward County with those owned by the Town of Farmville will require the customers of the Town of Farmville to pay multiple increased water and sewer rates…Based on the initial and limited material provided, our conclusion is that the citizens and customers of the Town of Farmville will incur unnecessary increased costs in their water and sewer fees as a result of the merger with Prince Edward County water and sewer assets with the Town of Farmville assets.”

Just four months earlier, Town and County officials had issued the joint public statement that said this, where Town water and sewer rates were concerned:

“It is envisioned that Authority would issue revenue bonds to purchase the existing infrastructure from the Town and County. All current customers of the County and Town would become customers of the Authority. The revenues currently generated by those customers would be used to pay the debt service. The debt will be structured so as not to require rate increases for current Town utility customers or a tax increase for County and Town residents. This conversion should be transparent to the existing customer base.”

Town's Rate Increase Proposal

According to information provided by the Town, the in-town bi-monthly bill for up to 3,000 gallons of water would increase by $5.44 under the proposal adopted by Town Council for a public hearing next month, with a $7.95 increase for use up to 5,000 gallons, $14.22 for usage up to 10,000 gallons, a $20.49 hike for use up to 15,000 gallons, a $26.76

The out-of-town rates for those same usages would increase by $8.16, $11.92, $21.33, $30.73, $40.14, and $50.04, respectively.

Restaurants in town would see their bimonthly bill increase by $79.56, $105.96 or $158.76, depending on usage.

Out-of-town restaurants would face increases of $119.34, $158.94 and $238.14 in their bi-monthly bill, depending up usage.

The Town's sewer bill is equal to 120 percent of a customer's water use.