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Sue Guinn Legg

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Update: Jonesborough water, sewer rates increase

June 30th, 2014 11:18 am by Sue Guinn Legg

Update: Jonesborough water, sewer rates increase

Jonesborough’s water and sewer rates are going up.

To meet the debt payments on approximately $11.5 million in improvements to the town’s water and sewer systems, including a more than $5.5 million wastewater treatment plant expansion, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Monday unanimously approved a $1 to $2 monthly water rate hike and a 25 percent increase in the cost of sewer service to become effective today.

The new water and sewer rates were approved on second and final reading in a specially called budget meeting that saw the passage of the town’s general fund budget for 2014-15 fiscal year put on hold.

According to Mayor Kelly Wolfe, the town will operate under last year’s budget on a continuing basis until Washington County leaders adopt an “equalization” of the county property tax rate, a measure necessitated by county Property Assessor Scott Buckingham’s reappraisal of property values earlier this year.

“Until we get our tax rate ... we’ll operate continuously,” Wolfe said. The county is expected to take up the tax equalization measure later this month.

Inside the town, the minimum cost of water was increased $1 per month, from $15.50 to $16.50. Water customers who live outside the town limits will see a $2 a month increase in their minimum bill, from $25.50 per month to $27.50 per month.

The rate increase also includes a $1 per month increase on every 1,000 gallons of water customers use above 5,000 gallons. Because the average residential customer uses only 3,700 gallons of water monthly, the increase is expected to primarily impact commercial and industrial water users.

Sewer rates will increase 25 percent to $20.63 per month for those living inside town and $34.37 for those outside the town limits.

In a public hearing held immediately prior to the budget meeting, a residential water customer not connected to the town’s sewer system was granted a request for consideration of a flat sewer rate that possibly could be applied to cost of a hookup for those who wish to connect the system in the future.

Because his home had a relatively new septic tank at the time he purchased it, the homeowner said, “We’re not hooked up. We’re not using it. ... Rather than it going up all the time, could there be a flat rate?”

Town Administrator Bob Browning said while the town has not previously considered a flat fee for non-users of the sewer system, it would possible to do so.

“I don’t think that’s unreasonable,” Wolfe said. “This is a legitimate concern. ... We will talk about this and put a proposal together.”

The homeowner also asked if the flat fee could be credited toward the cost of connecting to the sewer system in the future.

In addition to a new water/sewer fund budget, the board also unanimously approved a solid waste fund budget Monday with no change in the garbage collection fees charged by the town.

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Reported earlier:

Jonesborough’s water and sewer rates are going up.

To meet the debt payments on $11.5 million in recent water/sewer infrastructure improvements - including a $5.5 million expansion of town’s waste water treatment plant - the Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved a 25 percent increase in sewer rates and a $1 increase on every 1,000 gallons of water used above a 5,000-gallons baseline on second and final reading Monday morning.

Approval of Jonesborough’s general fund budget for fiscal year 2014-15 meanwhile is on hold and awaiting Washington County leaders’ equalization of the county property tax rate needed to bring the tax rate in line with this year’s reassessed property values.

Mayor Kelly Wolfe said the town will operate under last year’s general budget on a continuing basis until county leaders put the property tax equalization measure in place sometime in July.

More on the town’s specially called budget meeting will be posted this afternoon.

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