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February 24, 2009

RWSA proposes rate hikes for Charlottesville and Albemarle County

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Rates-chart(Source: RWSA - Click for larger image)

The Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority has scheduled a public hearing for May 18, 2009 to consider next year’s proposed rate increases. The City of Charlottesville will see its wholesale rate increase 7.83% to $2.464 per 1,000 gallons. The Albemarle County Service Authority (ACSA) will be charged $3.323, an 11.4% increase.

Wastewater rates will also increase. The City’s wastewater rate will be $2.794 per 1,000 gallons, an increase of 13.3%. The ACSA’s will rise to $3.073 per 1,000 gallons, a 12.89% increase.
Both the City and the ACSA will set their rates for individual customers later on this year.

The RWSA Board of Directors set the public hearing at their meeting on February 23, 2009 shortly being presented with the FY 2009-2010 budget by RWSA Executive Director Tom Frederick. He said this year’s budget was the most austere in years, and reflects the downturn into the economy.

Flow-chart
(Source: RWSA - Click for larger image)

The rates are going up even though the operating budget will shrink 3% over last year’s by $382,000. The increase can be attributed to at least two factors. First, water and wastewater flows are projected to decrease next year. In order to break even, Frederick said the RWSA has to increase its fees to cover the increased costs of chemicals.

Second, the RWSA is increasingly taking on more debt in order to finance major capital projects such as the 50-year community water supply plan, the state-mandated upgrade to the Moores Creek Wastewater Treatment Plan and improvements to the Meadowcreek Interceptor.

Both the City and the ACSA are charged the same flat rate to cover operations. The difference in rates is solely due to the level of debt being paid for by each community. If the budget is adopted, $1.231 of the City’s rate will cover debt service, whereas the ACSA’s portion will be $2.090. Total debt service is 48% of the RWSA’s budget.

“Because we are still in an intense capital cycle of renewing and replacing infrastructure that had not been replaced earlier, there still is a little bit of an increase in the expenditures,” Frederick said.

Sean Tubbs

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