Middleburg residents might see a bit of an increase on their utility bills when July 1 rolls around.
The Town Council on Thursday night discussed a possible 3 percent utility rate increase for fiscal year 2020 that would raise water rates by 10.5 cents from $16.64 per 1,000 gallons to $17.14 and raise sewer rates by 51 cents from $17.14 per 1,000 gallons to $17.65. Revenue from the increases would be used to “cover the regular cost of doing business,” according to a staff report. Staff members estimate that the higher rates would result in an increase of about $3.50 for the average resident’s bi-monthly water bill and about $3.60 for the average resident’s bi-monthly sewer bill.
If the rates are increased, the town would expect to pull in nearly $630,000 in revenue from water fees and $618,000 from sewer fees in fiscal year 2020, which would be nearly $19,000 more than it expects to generate from water fees and $18,000 more than it expects to generate in sewer fees by the end of the current fiscal year.
Eric Callocchia, a senior manager with the Municipal & Financial Services Group, told the council that if it does not increase utility rates by 3 percent in each of the next few years, the town’s end-of-year total fund reserves would be depleted by fiscal year 2022.
Mayor Bridge Littleton pointed out that the town and its consultants should work to find ways of building up its utility fund reserves, since the town relies on Salamander Resort for 50 percent of the revenue it generates from water and sewer fees.
He said that if the country experiences another recession, tourism levels will drop, resulting in more vacancy at the resort and deficits in the town’s utility fund. “If people aren’t there, they aren’t using the water,” he said.
The council is scheduled to vote to adopt the Fiscal Year 2020 Budget at its May 23 meeting.