Farmville Should Scrap Sanitation Fee

Published 2:51 pm Thursday, June 7, 2012

Editor, The Herald:

Most Farmville residents probably would agree that the sanitation activities of Farmville are done well. However, that in no way justifies the proposals being considered by the Town of Farmville for a new sanitation fee and new monthly billing for water, sewer and sanitation. I oppose these proposals from the viewpoints of efficiency, necessity, and fairness. Here's why.

Efficiency. Going from the current bimonthly billing to a monthly billing would double the cost of the billing process. Meters would have to be read twice as often, bills would have to be prepared and mailed out twice as often, checks would have to be processed twice as often. Meanwhile, Farmville residents will be writing out and mailing checks for smaller amounts twice as often. An alternative that should be considered is quarterly billing, which would have one-third the costs of monthly billing.

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Necessity. I have seen no justification of the financial need for this fee. The Farmville Herald has reported that Farmville is projected to have a surplus of $608,000 in the coming fiscal year. Stores in Farmville are busy, there is plenty of traffic on our streets, restaurants are active. Total business revenues in Farmville increased 8% between 2009 and 2011. The increasing business means higher business tax (BPOL) revenues to the Town. The national economy by many accounts is improving and Virginia's economy is doing well. Inflation is low. Farmville employees recently received a large bonus and the plan for the next fiscal year is to increase their salaries by 4%, a raise larger than that for Prince Edward's employees and considerably larger than the 3% planned for Virginia's state employees. Under these conditions it is hard to understand the necessity of imposing a sizeable increase in the Town's charges to residents for municipal services.

Fairness. The flat fee of $10/month or $120/year equals an increase of 100% in Township charges (other than the separately paid water and sewer) to the owner of a property valued at $100,000. It is a 20% increase for the owner of property worth $500,000. Still significant, but because of the flat nature of the charges, the small property owner is hit harder than the more affluent resident. And by many reports it is the least affluent members of our society that are suffering the most in the current economy. Since the sanitation charge is not easily adjustable for the amount of services used, and it its clearly beneficial to the entire township as well as the individual resident to have a clean environment, I believe the fairer way to pay for them is through the general property tax (as is now done).

To summarize, I think Farmville should scrap the proposed sanitation fee/tax (any real difference here?) and consider going to quarterly billing for water and sewer.

William C. Firth