OWASA Board Sets Public Hearings on FY21 Budget; No Rate Increase Proposed

(Please note that the meeting will start at 7 p.m., not 6 p.m. as was published in the News and Observer public notice.)

OWASA’s Board of Directors will hold virtual public hearings on May 28 at 7 p.m. regarding the proposed budget and rate adjustment for Fiscal Year 2021.

OWASA understands the significant financial impact of the COVID-19 crisis on our community and is proposing no water or sewer rate increase this October. Prior to the crisis, OWASA staff projected that a 5% increase would be needed to support our long-term program to renew and replace aging infrastructure.

In order to propose a budget that included no rate increase, OWASA staff will not receive raises under the proposed budget and some capital projects have been deferred to future fiscal years. At the OWASA Board Work Session on May 14, Board members acknowledged that the proposed budget could present challenges to employee retention and, potentially, OWASA’s level of service.

Investments in our utility are critical to maintaining water and sewer service and protecting public health. Delaying investments in our community’s utility infrastructure is not a sustainable solution. To ensure the long-term risks are minimized, rate increases are anticipated in future fiscal years.

The proposed budget includes roughly $23.2 million for operating expenses, $20.3 million for capital projects, and $7.6 million for making principal and interest payments on loans and bonds used to finance system improvements.

The Board of Directors will hold public hearings on the proposed budget and rates at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 28. The hearings will be held virtually. Members of the public will be able to comment during the live, virtual meeting by registering at least two days in advance by contacting the Clerk to the Board by email or 919-537-4217; written comments can also be sent to the Board within 24 hours after the meeting to still be included in the public comment record by email or mailing materials to Clerk to the Board, 400 Jones Ferry Road, Carrboro, NC 27510.

The Board approved publishing of the proposed budget and rates at a meeting on May 14. The Board will hold a vote on the final budget and rates in June.