By KATE COIL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
TAZEWELL, Va. —
Water and sewer rates in Tazewell County could soon be increasing.
The county’s Public Service Authority is proposing a graduated water and sewer rate increase over three years to help cover the cost of upgrades and infrastructure improvements to the Claypool Hill Wastewater Treatment Plant.
The proposed rate hike would increase residential water and sewer rates for customers using less than 1,000 gallons per month by 75 cents per year during the next three years. These customers will begin paying $20 for water and sewer beginning on July 1, 2013. Rates will increase to $20.75 on July 1, 2014 and to $21.50 on July 1, 2015 under the proposal.
Customers using more than 1,000 gallons per month will see their bills increase $6.50 per 1,000 gallons in the first year beginning on July 1, 2013, then increase to $7 per 1,000 gallons beginning on July 1, 2014, and then increasing to $7.50 per 1,000 gallons a month beginning on July 1, 2015.
PSA Administrator Dahmon Ball said the authority felt increasing rates over time would help customers adjust to the increase more easily.
“To minimize the impact of the proposed rate increase, implementation would be over a three-year period,” Ball said. “Currently, residential water customers are paying a base rate of $19.25 per month for 1,000 gallons minimum usage. The base residential water rate would increase 75 cents per year over the next three fiscal years to $21.50 per month in 2015. The tier rate for 1,000 gallon would increase 43 cents during the first year, 50 cents during the second year and 50 cents during the third year. Residential water customers now using 2,000 gallons per month would increase from $25.32 — where they are currently — to $29.00 in 2015. Residential sewer rates would mirror the water rates.”
Ball said the purpose of the rate increase is to help upgrade a wastewater treatment plant in the Claypool Hill area.
“Included in the future capital infrastructure improvements is the upgrade of the Claypool Hill Wastewater Treatment Plant,” Ball said. “The plant was constructed in the 1980s. The PSA is working with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality on short and long-term plans to address the current needs of the facility until the upgrade is complete. The construction of the plant is estimated to be completed in 2015. The upgrade will double the plant’s capacity from 350,000 gallons per day to 700,000 gallons per day. The upgrade consists of a 20-year growth projection for the service area. The DEQ — through the State Water Control Board — has authorized a loan for the project in the amount of $9,255,550 for 25 years at 0 percent interest.”
Ball said the rate increase will also help cover the cost of bond payments owed by the county to help finance improvements to the county’s water and sewer systems.
“The Virginia Resources Authority (VRA), bond holder for the PSA’s Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and DEQ loans, is requiring the PSA to increase the rates sufficient to meet the annual debt payment on any new bond debt,” Ball said. “The PSA’s goal is to continue to provide quality water and reliable sewer service to its customers at the least cost possible. The PSA’s water and sewer infrastructure throughout Tazewell County also will provide opportunities for both residential and commercial growth.”
Tazewell County residents will have a chance to give feedback and ask questions about the proposed increase at a public hearing scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 22 in the PSA Office on Tazewell Mall Circle in Tazewell, Va.
— Contact Kate Coil at firstname.lastname@example.org