Water, Sewer Hikes Eyed In Grottoes‚ÄąPlan

Public Hearing On Budget Set

Posted: May 7, 2014

The proposed 2015 fiscal budget for the town of Grottoes calls for raising the cigarette tax, as well as increasing the water and sewer rates for users above the base rate of 4,000 gallons.

The town will hold a public hearing on its budget Monday, said Town Manager Jeff Nicely. Council could approve the budget as soon as its June 9 meeting.

The budget must be approved by June 30 because the new fiscal year starts July 1.

The proposed budget totals $3.8 million, a decrease from the current year’s spending plan budget of $4.6 million. A mandated $2 million upgrade to the town’s wastewater treatment plant was largely responsible for a jump of about $2.6 million in fiscal 2014 from the previous year’s budget.

Nicely explained that when officials were preparing the budget last year, the plan showed a little more than $2 million as an estimate for sewer revenue and expenses for the project, but the town actually saw only a portion of that amount.

The town began work on the wastewater treatment plant in December, and the project is expected to wrap up by the end of the year.

Grottoes officials say they have a better idea of how much funding the town will receive from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and how much work remains since the project is now well under way. As a result, the proposed budget for fiscal 2015 reflects a decrease of about $760,000 in spending compared to the current year.

To pay for the work, Grottoes received a $2 million loan that it must start paying off in July 2015.

“The reason we are raising the sewer rates is to prepare to pay back the 20-year loan for this state-mandated project that we are doing,” Nicely said. “Also, we are raising water rates because we are beginning to upgrade our water infrastructure by repairing leaking lines and such.”

The budget does not propose changing the base rate for the first 4,000 gallons of water and sewer usage, but rates would increase for usage above that amount.

The current sewer fee for the first 4,000 gallons is a base rate of $31.25 every two months, and $20.63 bimonthly for water.

“If you use 4,000 exactly, you will see no increase,” Nicely said.

For usage above the base amount, there would be an increase per 1,000 gallons of 25 cents for water and 50 cents for sewer.

So, the proposed budget would increase the water fee per 1,000 gallons above the first 4,000 from $1.57 to $1.82. Also, the sewer fee per 1,000 gallons would increase from $2.91 to $3.41, Nicely said.

For a user of 10,000 gallons, for example, the rate would be $1.50 more for the extra 6,000 gallons of water, plus an additional $3 for the extra 6,000 gallons of sewer. If the new rates are approved in the budget, the user of 10,000 gallons would pay a total bimonthly rate of $83.26 for water and sewer.

The personal property and real estate taxes are not increasing, said Nicely. However, the cigarette tax would increase 5 cents per pack, or from 15 to 20 cents per pack.

Grottoes Town Council meets at 601 Dogwood Ave. Monday’s meeting starts at 7 p.m.

Contact Jonathon Shacat at 574-6286 or jshacat@dnronline.com

NDN Video News