Grottoes Council To Present Budget In May

Water, Sewer Rate Increases Possible

Posted: April 19, 2013

Grottoes Town Council members are hammering out the details of the town’s new budget, which will be presented at a public hearing May 13.

The only tax or fee increases council is considering for fiscal 2014 are water and sewer rate hikes, according to Town Manager Jeff Nicely. Those increases will sound familiar to Grottoes residents, who experienced a jump in water and sewer rates just last year.

Council approved a 25 percent increase in the base sewer rate and a 6.4 percent increase in the base water rate in June. In addition, the fiscal 2013 budget included an increase of 1.9 percent for every 1,000 gallons of water or sewer service after the initial 4,000 gallons covered by the base rates.

The $2.6 million budget approved for the current fiscal year contains a bimonthly water base rate of $16.50 and a bimonthly base sewer rate of $25. The rate per 1,000 gallons of water service after that base rate is $1.54 bimonthly; for extra sewage service, it’s $2.86.

Nicely said council does not have any definitive numbers in mind for possible upcoming increases yet, noting that the rate hikes are not a sure thing. Those numbers, along with the entire proposed budget, will be revealed at next month’s meeting.

Gradual increases in sewer and water rates over multiple years have been a part of the plan, Nicely said.

“It’s been discussed that we would want to gradually bring our rates up,” he said.

Council is considering rate hikes on sewer services again for the same reason as before: required updates to the town’s wastewater treatment plant, which are estimated to cost $2 million, Nicely said.

 A mandate passed down to the state from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires the town to dump less phosphorus into the South Fork of the Shenandoah River, thereby necessitating the upgrades.

Council expects the town to receive funding for about 38 percent of the project from a Virginia Department of Environmental Quality grant, Nicely said. The town will cover the rest of the project with a 20-year loan, also through DEQ.

Work on the upgrade project will likely start this summer, Nicely said.

After holding the public hearing on the budget next month, council plans to vote on the spending plan for fiscal 2014 at its June 10 meeting. The budget, once approved, will take effect with the start of the new fiscal year on July 1.

Contact Candace Sipos at 574-6275 or csipos@dnronline.com



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