Water board to look at rate hike

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 25, 2004

For the first time in four years, the Greenville Water Works & Sewer Board will consider a rate increase at its meeting on Tuesday.

The increase will fund needed matching funds that were given to the city to build the water and sewer system that services the Hwashin plant on U.S. Highway 31 North and the Hysco plant off of Hwy. 185 South.

&uot;Over a year ago, we were given a grant of $1.5 million for the project,&uot; Mayor Dexter McLendon said.

&uot;Now the city has to match it with $1.3 million.&uot;

Before anyone jumps up and yells foul, McLendon noted that cost cutbacks have been in the department in anticipation of the matching funds.

&uot;For the last year, we have been creating ways of saving money,&uot; he said.

&uot;We have less employees and we have tightened our belt and I’m very proud of how the water department has brought costs under control.&uot;

If approved, on Jan. 1, the city’s rate for minimum usage will be from $9.50 to $11.26.

That is an increase of $1.76 for water and 50 cents for sewer.

This is the first increase in sewer fees since 1990.

The mayor said the minimum usage often applies to those on fixed incomes and that they were very mindful of those people.

&uot;Our main concern was to keep that rate as low as possible,&uot; he said.

&uot;We don’t want to put any undue hardships on people who are already stretched financially.&uot;

McLendon said another reason the city is having to do the increase is because of continually rising gas prices and the fact that so many regulations from the federal government requires updating equipment.

&uot;This is just something we had to do,&uot; he said.

The mayor said the rate does fluctuate depending on the amount of water used by a family.

Of course, a family of six will pay more for water than a single person.

That’s common sense.

Also, it should be noted that this is not a money making venture for the city, but rather, a way to keep up with the financial times.

As McLendon pointed out, there are no profits from the use of sewer lines.

&uot;With all the regulations they hand down to us that we have to comply with, we are always going to be putting money into the system,&uot; he said.

&uot;When you look at cable rates and other utility rates, this just follows the needs of the time.&uot;

McLendon also pointed out that if the city does not increase its rate in order to raise the matching funds for the grant, a much bigger increase could be on the horizon.

&uot;If we didn’t have the money to match the grant, we would have had to raise rates by $4 or more,&uot; he said.

The next meeting of the water and sewer board will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday at City Hall.