OWASA Board of Directors invites comments on proposed budget and rates in public hearings on Thursday, May 24th; a 2% increase in monthly water and sewer rates is proposed

Friday, April 27, 2018 9:41:00 AM

April 27, 2018 - All citizens are cordially invited to comment in the OWASA Board's public hearings on the proposed Fiscal Year 2019 (July 2018 – June 2019) budget, rates, and capital program on Thursday, May 24th at 7pm in the Chapel Hill Town Hall.

OWASA proposes a 2% increase in monthly rates to reinvest in the community’s water and sewer infrastructure. A 2% adjustment to rates would increase the monthly bill for a single-family household using 4,000 gallons per month by $1.41 to $72.07. The proposed changes would take effect October 1, 2018.

Some other fees are being adjusted as well, including a decrease to one-time system development fees charged when a property is first connected to OWASA's system. The decrease is based on changes in underlying costs related to system growth and would take effect July 1, 2018.

A summary of proposed rates is available on OWASA’s website, and can be reached by clicking on “About OWASA” and then “Performance and Financial Information”.

OWASA is committed to providing high-quality, safe, and reliable water and wastewater services, and our rates reflect the true cost of providing these services. The investments we make in our infrastructure help prevent water main breaks and sewer overflows. They allow us to maintain, replace and upgrade the equipment, facilities and resources we need to make sure that water is available, safe, and good-tasting and that recycled treated wastewater is safe for the environment. They allow us to provide our employees a fair and competitive wage.

Our capital improvements program is a necessary investment in the long-term sustainability of our community. The five-year capital improvements program projects nearly $100 million of capital spending needed to maintain about 800 miles of underground pipe; invest in the renewal or replacement of existing equipment at our treatment plants, pump stations, and reservoirs; and mitigate operational expenses in future years.

The proposed budget includes:

  • $22.5 million for operating costs
  • $22.6 million for capital projects, about three-quarters of which will be spent on repairing and rehabilitating existing infrastructure
  • $0.9 million for vehicles and other equipment
  • $7.2 million for principal and interest payments on bonds and loans. (OWASA periodically sells bonds to help pay for long-lived capital investments.) 

Public Hearing on Budget and Rates Scheduled for Thursday, May 24, 2018

The hearings will be part of the Board meeting to begin at 7 PM in the Chapel Hill Town Hall, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The proposed budget for July 2018 through June 2019 includes a modest increase in monthly water and sewer water use rates of 2% that would go into effect October 1, 2018.

The time limit for comments in the hearing is four minutes per speaker, unless otherwise determined by the Board of Directors. More detailed comments are invited by e-mail to board_and_leadership@owasa.org or by letter to Andrea Orbich, Clerk to the Board, 400 Jones Ferry Road, Carrboro, NC 27510. Comments received by OWASA are public records under State law.

The public hearings will be carried live on local cable channels 18, 97.4 and 1303 and on AT&T U-verse channel 99 (go to channel 99, select Chapel Hill Gov-TV and hit OK) and live streamed on the Town of Chapel Hill website's Board Videos page.

For more information about the proposed budget and capital program, and the schedule of proposed rates, visit OWASA's Performance and Financial Information webpage.

Background

OWASA is a non-profit, community-owned water and wastewater utility and our investments in water and wastewater infrastructure are not supported by taxes nor federal grants. We reinvest the rates and fees paid by our customers directly into the treatment plants, pipes, and people that will serve our community for years to come.

Delivering safe drinking water and recycling clean wastewater is very capital intensive. Each year we take a long-term look at what is needed to sustain the essential services we provide, and we prioritize those projects based on their criticality.

We also take a long-term approach to operating expenses and invest in projects like the Agua Vista Metering Initiative and Energy Management Program that will provide the community financial returns in years to come.

No individual project is driving the need for a rate increase; rather, it is attributable to an increase in the true costs to provide high-quality, safe, and reliable water and wastewater services, so as not to short-change future generations.

We appreciate our customers for their partnership. Beyond paying their OWASA bill every month, the cost and commitment borne by our community to use water wisely and protect the wastewater system pays dividends, ecologically and economically. A modest increase in rates later this year will help mitigate the need for larger rate increases in future years and helps to maintain our strong credit rating.

For more information: