After delaying a decision for two months, the Louisa County Water Authority board voted on Oct. 14 to raise water and sewer rates, effective on Jan. 1, 2021.
The board may have to consider another change to rates when it begins talking about a budget for fiscal year 2022, which starts next summer.
The board put off the rate hike after a public hearing in August after hearing from a number of customers that the coronavirus pandemic made it a bad time to raise prices. But the issues driving the rate increase remain the same.
Rates need to go up, the authority says, so it can end the practice of dipping into connection fees to pay for operational costs. The former are supposed to be reserved for repairs or building new infrastructure such as water or wastewater plant upgrades. The authority also wants to stop asking the Louisa County Board of Supervisors for subsidies.
The vote to increase rates was 6-0. One board member, David Kies, was absent.
The water authority serves customers with water from Northeast Creek Reservoir, between the towns of Louisa and Mineral, and from wells in Zion Crossroads. The authority also sells water to the towns of Louisa and Mineral, which in turn sells it to residents.
Water rates will go up in January, but the base rate will drop from 4,000 to 3,000 gallons per month. This is to credit customers who tend to use less water each month than the base amount. About 21 percent of customers fall into this category. A customer using 3,000 gallons per month will pay less than they do now.
But a customer who continues to use 4,000 gallons per month will pay $13 more each month. A customer who consumes 3,500 gallons per month would be likely to see a smaller cost increase.
In addition to the rate hike, the water authority will impose a new $6 monthly administrative fee to be paid by all customers.
The current base water and sewer rates are $23.56 and $35.48 per 4,000 gallons. The new base rates will be $20.13 and $29.79 per 3,000 gallons. The water rate per 1,000 gallons will increase from $5.89 to $6.71, and the sewer rate per 1,000 gallons from $8.87 to $9.93.
The wholesale user rate per 1,000 gallons, which the town of Louisa pays, will climb from $4.57 to $5.21. The Louisa Town Council indicated in July that it will wait to see what action the water authority takes before deciding whether to change rates for town customers.
Pam Baughman, the water authority’s general manager, said she will include a notification to customers about the upcoming rate changes in the next month’s bills.