The Wilmington City Council pushed through a 48.4 percent increase in the water and wastewater portion of city utility bills Tuesday night.
A 3,000-gallon bill will go from about $43 to just under $64. Wastewater debt service accounts for nearly all of the increase.
On the recommendation of the Water, Sewer, Streets and Alleys Committee, the council waived the second reading of the ordinance and approved a new three-year rate schedule. Members of the council acted quickly in order to collect enough money to make an interest-only sewer plant loan payment in June.
Instead of the knee-jerk reaction of raising rates to as much as $35 per month to collect enough to make the $439,000 semi-annual payment, council members commissioned a study to determine exactly what the systems would need to operate in the black while having funds set aside for maintenance and debt repayment. They wanted to take advantage of any operational efficiencies they could find, as well as justify and minimize the inevitable rate increases.
The new rate structure, based on the study results, ensures the city will be able to make its loan payments while building reserves for future repairs and improvements on the two systems that are supposed to be self-sufficient.
For the full story, pick up The Free Press Advocate this week.