Vinton proposes water, wastewater fee increase

Some Lynchburg residents will find water service interruption on Wednesday as city crews replace a fire hydrant.

(PHOTO: Courtesy MGN)

VINTON, Va. (WFXR) — The Town of Vinton has proposed an increase in their water and wastewater fees to raise funds for major capital improvement projects.

In July, consultant Davenport & Co. presented to the Town Council the conclusions of a rate study, which found the town’s fees at the bottom of the bell curve compared to other municipalities in the region, said Vinton’s Finance Director and Treasurer Anne Cantrell.

The following water and wastewater fees and schedule have been proposed to the Council based on the results of the study:

  • The monthly water minimum charge will be $5.50.
  • The monthly sewer minimum charge will be $9.50.
  • Minimal charges will rise over eight percent each year over the 2021 through 2023 fiscal years.
  • For consumers consuming from 0 to 16,5000 gallons a month, the rate will be $4.02 per one thousand gallons.
  • Above 16,500 gallons consumed a month, the rate will be $5.04 per one thousand gallons.
  • The sewer rate will be $4.69 per one thousand gallons.

Individuals were previously charged a flat fee for up to 5,000 gallons of water used per month. Under the proposal, customers would be charged for every gallon consumed.

The fees and schedule, if approved, would begin in January 2020 until 2023.

The additional funds raised would pay for more than $8 million dollars in water and sewer structure upgrades.

Cantrell said the town plans to connect a new well to the water system. One of the town’s water wells has limited water output, necessitating the new well.

The equipment that connects the town’s sewer line system to the Western Virginia Regional Water Authority, which processes the wastewater, has never been replaced and is due for an upgrade, she said.

The town will also be investing in an electronic meter system, which will allow for remote readings of the water meters. Currently, meters are read manually by a staff of two who visit every meter for the bi-monthly billing.

With an updated system, the bi-monthly water and sewer bill will be sent out monthly.

Town officials advertised the proposed rate changes in a pamphlet available to city residents and through their social media channels, Cantrell said.

While the officials expected to receive some negative response, calls to the town with regards to the proposed fee have been low, with residents seeking clarification on the changes to billing from bi-monthly to monthly. In a public hearing on the proposal on Oct. 8, no resident appeared to make comment.

Several council members expressed confidence in the support of the proposal throughout the Council, predicting a unanimous vote in favor of the proposal at the next council meeting.

Town Counselor Janet Scheid, a Finance Committee member, who examined the capital improvement projects, said the town’s residents understand the importance of investing in infrastructure.

“These are capital improvement needs that have been put off for four to five years that like with anything else, the more you put off, the more expensive it’s going to be in the long run,” Scheid said.

A vote on the water and sewer fee schedule is scheduled for Nov. 5, at the council’s meeting.

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