Purcellville Readies for New 4-Tier Utility Rate Structure

People living in Purcellville will see an increase to their water bills in the next fiscal year and beyond, while non-residential customers will get a break.

Stantec, the town’s utility rate consultant, briefed the Town Council last Wednesday night on the new, four-tier utility rate structure, which will replace the existing 17-tier structure, and is meant to provide more equitable utility bills for all customers It will be implemented in Fiscal Year 2022, which begins July 1, 2021.

Currently, all single-family customers fall within the first six tiers of the town’s 17-tier pricing structure. Stantec Principal David Hyder said the majority of those customers fall within the first tier. He said non-residential users, however, pay much more for their water use because they use more and fall into the higher tiers. While residential customers pay an average of $9.67 per 1,000 gallons of water use, commercial users pay an average of $15.84 for that same use and institutional customers pay $22.24 for it.

“There’s quite a disproportional effective unit rate,” Hyder said.

The new structure will create four tiers of bi-monthly water use: 0-7,000 gallons, 7,001-14,000 gallons, 14,001-20,000 gallons and 20,001 gallons and up. Coupled with 3% water rate hikes proposed in Fiscal Year 2022, that structure will see the bill of the average single-family customer, who uses 8,000 gallons of water in a bi-monthly billing cycle, increase by $11. Meanwhile, the bills of large single-family customers who use 20,000 gallons of water per bi-monthly billing cycle will increase by nearly $67. There are 2,691 single-family water customers in Purcellville.

Non-single-family customers will be charged based not only on their water use, but also on their meter sizes. Most of their bills will also increase. The majority of non-single-family customers with 5/8-inch meters who use 26,000 gallons of water in a bi-monthly billing cycle—182 of them in all—will see their bills increase by $104.

But the 29 non-single-family users with 1.5-inch meters who use 451,000 gallons of water in a bi-monthly billing cycle will see their bills decrease, by $2,500 to be exact. The two users with 4-inch meters who use 277,000 gallons of water in a bi-monthly billing cycle will see their bills shrink by nearly $3,000.

In all, Stantec anticipates that somewhere around 20% of the town’s 315 non-single-family water customers will see their bills decrease.

“The goal is to try to come up with something that’s equitable that allocates the water appropriately,” Hyder said.

Moving past the next fiscal year, Stantec has recommended the town increase its water rates each year by 3% through Fiscal Year 2026. Those increases would see the bi-monthly average bills of single-family customers who use 8,000 gallons of water in a bi-monthly billing cycle increase by about $2.50 in each of those years.

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