Town Manager Austin Faison announced Tuesday night at the council meeting that the Town of Winthrop will increase water and sewer rates by $3 per hundred cubic feet beginning with the current billing cycle.
The increase, from $19.90 per hundred cubic feet to $22.90 is the result of a drop in the amount of water used by the Town in the first half of the billing year.
Information on what an average water bill will be was not readily available at the meeting.
“It’s a combination of decreased usage and the future borrowing that we are going to take on for the center business project,” Faison said.
Water and sewer rates were just raised 17 percent in May 2018 because of a water and sewer budget deficit when Police Chief Terry Delehanty was interim town manager. It was said then that there was a risk to raise the rate because it often resulted in less usage. This has been the case with a 6 percent reduction in use from last spring.
“We always approach any rate adjustment in a serious and deliberative manner. The Town of Winthrop takes the needs of its citizens to heart. This rate change is needed to fulfill previously planned vital improvements to our water system that ensure we are providing the best possible water for the drinking, cooking, and cleaning needs of all,” Faison said.
The reason for the $3 rate increase is to offset a projected $576,000 deficit caused by a six percent reduction in usage based on the first two billing cycles of this fiscal year. This deficit must be offset by June 30, 2019. There are no new projected increases in expenditures beyond those that have been previously planned.
“Again, this is not something I’m excited to do,” Faison said. “But it’s something that is necessary for right now it corrects where the rate needs to be. With this rate increase I am committed to not coming back here and discussing the water rates until July 1, 2020. I am confident this will be the only necessary rate change needed for the next year and a half.”
Unlike other communities in the area, Winthrop does not have a tiered system that charges different rates depending on how much water is used and whether the user is a single-family home, multifamily residence, condominium, or commercial property. The single rate is charged to every user in the community, regardless of volume or purpose. Residents should expect to see the increase on their Feb. 4 water and sewer bills.