Water fees remain a hot topic as new rates begin next month

Published 5:32 pm Friday, March 10, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

GATESVILLE – While the cost increase in usage fees for customers of the county’s public water system doesn’t take affect until April 1, discussion has began on how to collect past due accounts.

At their special called meeting here March 1, the Gates County Board of Commissioners received an update regarding public utilities.

“We have some policies that have become inactive or stagnant as it relates to write-off policies for accounts that have not been paid. This applies to water fees and landfill fees,” stated interim County Manager Scott Sauer.

“Another policy needing to be addressed is water cut-off,” he continued. “We do have some cash flow issues with funds that are due to Gates County. If we only look at the active accounts of people using Gates County water who haven’t paid a water bill in four or more months, some for a year, that’s 132 accounts at about $55,000 total. There are lots of other accounts that are active but the house may be vacant or for other reasons. We need to get that revenue where it belongs….here at the water department’s cash register.”

Meanwhile, the board wanted to make sure that the information about the increase in the water rates as well as two new fees is reaching the customers of the water system Action was taken at the board’s last meeting to address the financial deficit in the water system. The rate increase was approved effective April 1.

Gates County Public Utilities Director Brad Arnold said he proposed to Sauer to use the county’s Code Red system around the middle of March to ensure that the county’s water customers are aware of the rate and fees increase.

Other than raising the bi-monthly basic usage fee from $24 to $29 (which includes the first 2,000 gallons of water) and the rate for each additional 1,000 gallons of usage after that from $3 to $5, other changes to the fee schedule include the following:

Tap-on-Fee size ¾” from $1,000 to $1,500;

Tap-On Fee size 2″ from $2,250 to $3,000;

Meter Re-Read Fee from no cost to $25;

Meter Test Fee from $15 to $40;

Replace angle valve from $60 to $75;

Replace meter box with lid from $50 to $75; and

Replace meter box lid from $15 to $25.

There are two new fees: an application fee ($25 for residential homeowners/renters; $50 for a new commercial account; and $100 for a new industrial account) plus a security deposit for all new accounts ($50 for residential homeowner; $100 for residential renter; and $100 for new commercial or industrial customers).

In his update to the board, Arnold said staff is still

fixing water leaks throughout the county…six in the previous week alone.

Additionally, Arnold said that two proposals are in, and waiting on a third, for the water meter replacement project.


About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

email author More by Cal