OWASA chief Ed Kerwin predicted another steep rate hike after the board raised water rates 17 percent last year.
On May 28, the OWASA board of directors will hold a public hearing on its draft budget and a 9.75 percent increase in monthly water and sewer rates.
The rate hike would increase a monthly bill by $6.68 (from $68.24 to $74.92) for a typical individually-metered residence using 5,000 gallons per month.
OWASA’s draft fiscal 2010 budget includes $18.7 million for operations, $6.8 million for capital improvements and $9.7 million for bond debt payments. The operating budget includes:
- $1.7 million in cost reductions including elimination of 10 positions and freezing of eight vacant positions, deferral of a sewer maintenance program and postponement of water meter replacements;
- reduced capital spending including a one-year delay in the next phase of odor elimination improvements at the Mason Farm Wastewater Treatment Plant;
- reducing recreation days at University Lake from Friday through Monday to Saturday and Sunday, and continuing the current Saturday-only schedule at Cane Creek Reservoir; and
- substantial increases in the cost of chemicals used in water and wastewater treatment.
Without the increase in chemical costs, the draft operating budget for FY 2010 would be 6 percent less than the budget for FY 2009.
As Kerwin and OWASA said last year the budget reflects continuing low water demand and reduced revenue from new development connections due to the slow economy. Projected water demand next year is 16 percent less than in fiscal 2001, while the number of customer accounts has increased by 3,100 since then.
The May 28 public hearing will be part of a meeting at 7 p.m. in Chapel Hill Town Hall, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. The meeting will be televised live on local cable channel 18. All customers may also contact OWASA at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by letter to 400 Jones Ferry Road, Carrboro, NC 27510.