LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Water customers in Lynchburg could see a rate increase this summer.
Lynchburg Water Resources is presenting a proposed stormwater rate increase on Tuesday, Feb. 23. The City Council may work that increase into the next budget over the coming months.
It’s a roughly a six percent increase. According to Lynchburg Water Resources, that’s about 25 cents per month for the average family, which currently pays about $4 per month.
For restaurants, it’s a lot more.
“A six percent increase in anything that goes against your bottom line is going to be a tough thing to swallow,” said Dave Henderson, owner of The Water Dog in Lynchburg.
Henderson says his restaurant already pays Water Resources hundreds of dollars a month.
“This is a time when restaurants have been investing in other needs that they have in order to stay alive and afloat. Outdoor heating equipment, blankets, expanding their patio.”
Tim Mitchell, the Water Resources Director, says that rate increase would help fill six positions and make much-needed improvements to the city’s water system.
“We have over 100 miles of pipeline that are in need of replacement right now,” said Mitchell. “Most of that is over 100 years old. Some of that is inferior materials that need to be replaced sooner than 100 years.”
Henderson says he understands the city’s needs but thinks it’s a bad time while people and businesses are struggling.
“It’s not necessarily that I’m 100 percent against it. It’s just that I think that there certainly should be some robust discussion over whether now is the time.”
“We definitely are sensitive to those issues,” said Mitchell, “and that’s why we’re going to have a discussion with council, and if we can work it out to where we don’t have to have the rate increase this year, then that’d be great.”
Mitchell says that under Lynchburg City Council policy, his department has to have 15 percent of their annual operating budget on hand at all times. Without that rate increase, he says they would fall below that, to about 14 percent.