Water charges hiked to cover costs

— Water rates have increased in the hamlet of Warrensburg to pay for increased expenses, to pay back accrued debt, and to accommodate increased water usage.

Last year, water rates were $102 for an average residential household. Water bills sent out this past week reflected a new charge of $153 for a regular residence. This charge is scheduled to increase to $195 per year in the 2012 billing, according to a vote taken by the Town Board Aug. 10.

Increases are to pay for increased operation and maintenance costs, to pay down an accrued deficit incurred by the town water district, and to establish a reserve fund to develop a new well, town officials said. They note that bills sent out two weeks ago have prompted numerous inquiries.

The commercial water rate has been changed too.

Through this year, water charges to commercial entities were based on an assigned charge according to estimated water usage.

This past week the Town Board voted to charge commercial enterprises, beginning in 2012, a base fee of $390 for up to 20,000 gallons used and an additional charge of $3.90 per thousand gallons above that volume.

The town has recently installed new water meters in commercial properties to measure the usage, and town officials intend to convert to a volume-based billing for residences as well.

This effort follows an initiative started in the early 1990s to charge homeowners for the gallonage used. Although meters were installed nearly 20 years ago, a previous town administration put the effort on hold, and a flat charge remained in place.

Those water meters now need to be upgraded to allow for efficient billing, Town Clerk Donna Combs said.

It has been noted in other communities that when water is charged based on the amount used, water customers drastically reduce their water consumption, leading to savings for all residents and businesses in the water district.

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