By. Brent Wilson Field Officer
The short story is monthly water bills are increasing in Greene County.
The longer story requires understanding the political workings and billing rationale of the Rapidan Service Authority (RSA).
Statutorily, the RSA Board, not the Board of Supervisors, set the rates for water and sewer. Politically, the members of the RSA Board include two members from each locality (Greene, Madison, Orange) who are appointed by their respective Board of Supervisors for four year terms. Thus, the RSA Board generally does whatever the locality asks.
Currently, RSA charges a Facility Fee of $20 per month for each water hook up. This results in a single family residence paying the same as a larger commercial establishment (Restaurant, Retail, Hotel, etc.) – regardless how much water each consumes.
When an account establishes new RSA water service, a determination is made regarding the anticipated water use of the account and the “hook up fee” is calculated based upon the anticipated use/dwelling unit use. In most cases, commercial users pay a multiple of the Dwelling Unit (EDU) dependent on use. A restaurant may require 5 EDUs, while a chiropractor’s office is only 2 EDUs. Each year, annual water consumption is audited to determine if the proper EDUs have been collected.
At the September 28th Greene County Board of Supervisors meeting Interim County Administrator Brenda Garton, proposed having the commercial users be charged facility fees based on how many EDUs are purchased for each location in order to make the facility charge more equitable to consumption.
Further, Garton recommended that the Greene Supervisors request RSA to increase the Facility Fee to $30 effective July 1, 2019. Chairperson Michelle Flynn (Ruckersville) agreed that both issues should be acted upon and forwarded to RSA so that RSA can act upon them at the same time.
Flynn asked Garton how quickly RSA would be able to make both changes. Garton estimated 2-3 months as the soonest but felt they would be accomplished by January/February, 2019 at the latest.
Flynn wanted to be sure to have ample time to publish the increase to give the public plenty of notice of the increased fees even though this issue has been discussed for months. Supervisor Bill Martin (Stanardsville) credited Garton with getting this project back on track and that the increased revenue will go to paying for existing and future debt of the water project.
Garton stated that RSA will have to have a public hearing to approve the two rate changes proposed.
Supervisor Dale Herring had a final question – the revised fees only apply to water – not sewer? Garton confirmed that this was the case. The board unanimously approved that a resolution be sent to RSA.
Brent Wilson is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization. The Free Enterprise Forum Field Officer program is funded by a generous grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® (CAAR) and by readers like you. To support this important work please donate online at http://www.freeenterpriseforum.org
Photo Credit: Greene County