The Louisa County Water Authority plans a public hearing on June 15 on a proposal to raise connection fees for new residential and commercial development.
The rate hike is the second part of the water authority’s phased approach to reduce its dependence on the Louisa County Board of Supervisors to pay for capital projects. The authority has also had to dip into connection fees in recent years to pay for operational costs.
Connection fees would increase for the typical single-family house by $1,500 each for water and sewer. That would bring the total connection cost for a house to $12,000. Fees would also rise for larger commercial customers with meters of one to 1.5 inches.
The authority also intends to raise the charge to repair a broken clean-out or to unblock a sewer line outside the home, from $20 to $100. Property owners can do this work themselves, but the authority wants to recoup its costs if it is asked to make the repair.
Pam Baughman, water authority general manager, said the authority board members considered a second rate hike for customers as part of the budget process for fiscal year 2022. But since the previous rate hike didn’t go into effect until Jan. 1, members decided to focus on connection fees instead. Baughman said these fees have not been adjusted since 2005.
The purpose of connection fees is to pay for system improvements and maintenance, she noted. This year the water authority did not ask the supervisors to pay for any improvements through the county capital improvement plan. In past years the supervisors have funded a number of expensive projects, such as the nanofiltration plant at the Northeast Creek Reservoir water facility.
The county government, not the water authority, will foot the bill for redeveloping the wastewater plant on New Bridge Road by Lake Anna, Baughman said.
A number of authority customers criticized the agency for raising rates in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, with many people out of work or with reduced hours of employment.
At the start of this year, the authority raised water and sewer rates per 1,000 gallons from $5.89 to $6.71, and the sewer rate per 1,000 gallons from $8.87 to $9.93. Members also instituted a new monthly $6 administrative fee. At the same time, they lowered the monthly base usage from 4,000 to 3,000 gallons to benefit people who use relatively low amounts of water.