Buckingham County considers increasing water/sewer fees

Published 5:32 pm Friday, June 16, 2023

The cost of connecting to a water and sewer line in Buckingham County could be going up. During their Monday, June 12 meeting, the Buckingham Board of Supervisors voted to move forward with a price increase. The reason, as Buckingham County Administrator Karl Carter explained, was because it hadn’t been adjusted in 20 years. 

“Those ordinances haven’t been adjusted since 2002,” Carter told board members. “We’re not trying to make money off connection fees. But at the same time, we don’t want to lose money when we get people hooked up.” 

Currently in Buckingham County, it costs a homeowner $2,000 to connect each water and sewer line. What the county’s utilities committee recommended was to increase that to $3,000 per line. 

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Part of the issue is that costs and regulations overall have increased since 2002. That includes everything from buying the materials to following state guidelines. It’s hard to balance that without passing some of that extra cost on to the customer. And $3,000 comes right in at the average for some counties of similar size to Buckingham, according to a survey done by the University of North Carolina. Out of 328 examined by the group, the average cost came in right under $3,000. 

Still some things to do 

That doesn’t mean the cost automatically increases, even though supervisors voted 6-0 to move forward. The current amount of $2,000 per new line is written into the county’s ordinance. That means they’ll have to change the ordinance before raising prices. And that requires a public hearing. That hearing is set for the next Board of Supervisors meeting, scheduled for Monday, July 10 at 7 p.m. 

Now in addition to changing the price, county staff recommended one more alteration to the ordinance. To avoid having to hold a public hearing before changing prices in the future, Carter suggested avoiding putting a specific price in the ordinance. Instead, he suggested it say “see current fee schedule”. 

“That way we can change the fees when we feel like we need to change them, without having a public hearing each time,” Carter told the board. 

It would still require a majority vote by supervisors, but that would take away the public hearing requirement. Carter said he recommended this to avoid adding multiple public hearings every time the county needs to make a change. 

Supervisors agreed, voting unanimously to send that proposal to the public hearing as well.