Town Hikes Tap Costs, Grave Fees

Published 3:28 pm Tuesday, June 18, 2013

FARMVILLE – Town Council approved increased water and sewer tap fees and higher grave digging charges during its regular June meeting last week.

The cost for each of the tap fees was increased by $1,000, both for in-town and out-of-town customers, though residents living within the Town's corporate limits pay less, overall, for water and sewer taps.

The water connection, or tap, fee for residential customers in Farmville is increasing from $3,000 to $4,000, with the commercial or industrial rate rising from $3,500 to $4,500, for all three-quarter-inch taps.

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By comparison, the out-of-town rates will rise from $5,000 for a residential water connection to $6,000, with the commercial or industrial rate rising from $6,500 to $7,500, for all three-quarter-inch connections.

The sewer connection charge for in-town residents will rise from $3,000 to $4,000 for a residential connection and from $3,500 to $4,500 for a commercial or industrial connection for all four-inch taps.

The out-of-town rates will rise from $5,000 to $6,000 for the sewer connection, with the commercial or industrial charge increasing from $6,500 to $7,500.

The basic connection fee is to cover the cost of the service tap, service line, meter setter and meter box.

The grave digging charges at the Town-owned Westview Cemetery have increased from $400 on a weekday to $550 and from $600 to $675 on weekends and holidays.

The cost of cremation urns was set at $325 on weekdays and $475 on weekends and holidays.

The increases in water and sewer tap fees and grave digging costs were approved following public hearings at which nobody spoke on either.

Town council members approved the increases without a dissenting vote.

Town Council will reconvene at 9:30 a.m. on June 26 to adopt the 2013-14 budget. The new fees, like the cigarette tax adopted last week, were part of ordinances and so council members could vote without the prescribed delay for action, following a public hearing, on a proposed municipal budget.

River Agreement

Town Manager Gerald Spates told The Herald that Town Council approved an agreement with Dr. Charles Anderson, following an executive session, regarding a long-time easement with his family related to the Appomattox River.

Spates praised Dr. Anderson and described the agreement as a “win-win” for the landowner and the Town.

“In going back to the easement that we originally got from his father he felt that we weren't following the intent of that easement, which spelled out that we would have a two-foot unobstructed opening in the river and during periods of low flow we put that baffle in there to raise that level in that flume so we can get more water into the plant during low flow,” Spates told The Herald.

“And I think he was concerned that it could cause flooding and that type of thing. We went through this process, I guess it's been going on for a couple of years, (and) we finally agreed to settle with him-and it's not really a settlement-to help off-set some of his legal fees and pay him $10,000 and the easement will be changed to allow us to do exactly what we've been doing and what we want to do,” the town manager said.

“We don't want to go back and change our permit (with DEQ) because that would cost us tons of money. But Dr. Anderson was very generous in working with us,” Spates said, “and we think it's a win-win situation for both of us.”

In an email reply to The Herald's query for his views, Dr. Anderson responded, “I am happy this matter is concluded. I feel that this is a fair agreement. I wanted Farmville to be able to legally capture water from the lake they bought upstream during times of drought, and to have more flexibility during low-flow states in the river. To do this Farmville needed a change in the original easement signed by my father with the Town. Mr. Spates understood this. He was very helpful in resolving all of my concerns.”

Resident Parking

Town Council voted to retain Resident Parking on Buffalo Street.

During its May meeting, council members heard from Buffalo Street resident Carol Hurley, who expressed her opposition to the $5 fee charged to residents on streets that have Resident Parking.

Hurley doesn't believe the $5 fee is fair and noted she never asked for Resident Parking.

Resident Parking is designed to ensure residents can park in front of their homes.

Hurley said the policy was unnecessary in front of her home, that she can always find a spot to park near her home, and she presented a petition concurring with her feelings signed by four of her neighbors.

Town officials, however, heard from other Buffalo Street residents since then who do not want Resident Parking removed.

“I do not feel that our block is being singled out unfairly (versus) other town residents,” Dr. Charles D. Ross wrote to Spates in an email included in the Town Council meeting packet. “For those of us who live in close proximity to Longwood and rely on on-street parking, $5 a year is an incredibly reasonable charge for the convenience of being able to park in front of your own house.”

Without the Resident Parking, Dr. Ross, who is employed by Longwood, fears that block of Buffalo Street “will essentially become a taxpayer-supported long-term free parking lot for Longwood students.”

Town Approvals

Town Council approved a variety of requests by organizations to use either Riverside Park or the Farmers Market.

The Farmville Downtown Partnership will use Riverside Park on Saturday, September 7 for the High Bridge Trail Half Marathon and 5K, with the High Bridge Festival.

The Rice Volunteer Fire Department will use Riverside Park for a Country Music Showdown on Friday, July 19.

The Farmville Jaycees will use the Farmers Market for this Friday's “First-Ever Seersucker And Sundresses Island Party.”

Metokos Ministries will use Riverside Park on Saturday, August 24 for a celebration of revival.

The Farmville Area Kiwanis Club will use the Farmers Market for its “First Friday Flea Market.”