Discounts & Rebates; Town Offering Up Tap Fee Incentives

Published 1:55 pm Thursday, March 26, 2015

FARMVILLE — One is a discount.

The other’s a rebate.

But they are both water and sewer tap incentives offered by the Town of Farmville to irrigate and fertilize development.

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Though the new, greatly reduced price—$1,000 per water and sewer tap, rather than $4,000—will be subject to a public hearing in April, the slimmed down fees are in play now.

Businesses pay $1,000 each per tap, plus the cost of making the tap, as an immediate upfront discount, while residential tap fees will be a rebate—pay the $4,000 and receive a $3,000 refund once the project is completed within the required 18-month period.

Town Attorney Andrea Erard described the plan during town council’s March work session as “a little more business-friendly because they get the discount and don’t have to apply for the rebate…”

Town Manager Gerald Spates illustrated the savings for entrepreneurs by citing a specific downtown project. “He’d have to pay $320,000 up front and then get a rebate. That’s a lot of money for somebody to put out for a project like that,” Spates said of the developer.

Not missing the point, Mayor David E. Whitus observed that the new incentives “could make a difference in the project going and not going.”

“Yes, sir,” Spates said.

As Erard explained during town council’s March work session, “we decided it would be easier, in terms of residential customers, to give them a rebate. But for business customers, because of the substantial cash outlay, they would actually receive it as a discount.”

The Town believes the incentives will help spark business growth, while protecting the Town against someone abusing the incentives by speculating on residential taps without real plans to use them in the immediate future.

“We felt you might have somebody that goes out there and says ‘Okay, I’m gonna get 10 water and 10 sewer taps’ and may not use them during that 18-month period,” Spates said.

For those who do complete their residential project within a year and a half, the process is simple.

“Once they get their certificate of occupancy,” Spates told council members, “we can refund the difference between the $4,000 they paid and the $1,000 we charge them.”

Doing it this way, Town officials believe, is far more workable than the alternative—trying to get someone to give $3,000 back to the Town treasurer because they didn’t follow through within 18 months.

If everyone were given an upfront discount and “you had a residential customer that didn’t follow through,” Erard explained, “then the burden would fall on us to take legal action against them, which could be very time-intensive.”

Picking up on the meaning of her words, town council member Tommy Pairet observed, “it’s better to be able to refund money than collect it.”

Affirmative expressions were seen and heard as corroborative replies.

Because the new fee incentives require an ordinance change, the proposal will be subject to a public hearing during town council’s April 8 meeting, at which time it is expected to be formally adopted.

But the new incentives are already being offered.

“Yeah, we’re kind of using these guidelines right now until we get the ordinance,” Spates noted, “because we have a lot of people that have asked about it and are very interested in it and I don’t want to deter anybody from…utilizing it.

The response so far, Spates told town council, has been very good.

“One gentleman bought 10 water and 10 sewer taps,” the town manager said, “and he’s building 10 units and will have it done within 18 months.”