Windsor water rates expected to rise

Published 7:01 am Friday, May 15, 2009

WINDSOR—Residents can expect to pay more for water service, interim Town Manager John Rowe announced on Tuesday during town budget talks.

Residents would pay $5.35 per thousand gallons for usage above 3,500 gallons. Residents who currently use less than 6,000 gallons for a two-month cycle are charged a flat fee of $24. In order to be more equitable, said Rowe, the minimum water bill would be decreased to $18.75 for usage up to the first 3,500 gallons.

The biggest impact in the fiscal 2009 operating budget, which was discussed at Tuesday’s Town Council meeting, is in the water category, said Rowe, because staff is projecting far less revenue from water sales.

“In the first six months of the current fiscal year, we were 9 million gallons below the same time last fiscal year. We’re now 9.5 million gallons behind,” said Rowe, adding that he didn’t predict any revenue from connection fees in the next year.

Councilwoman Carita Richardson expressed concern about the proposed water rate increase. “With the economy the way it is, I just hate to tell people that they’re going to have to pay more,” said Richardson.

The proposed 2009 budget projects nearly $1.7 million in expenditures in the three major categories of the general fund, water fund and cemetery fund.

“It’s a lean and mean budget,” said Rowe.

Each section has a surplus every year that is known as the “fund balance.” Rowe cautioned the council that monies from the fund balances should only be used for one-time expenditures and lauded the proposed budget for being balanced without the use of these monies.

The town council was also updated on progress on a major capital project, the construction of a sixth well that will extend water service to the town’s annexed areas as well as support the town’s water demand.

“Currently we only have one (high-capacity well),” Stallings said. If that one well did not function, he explained, the remaining wells in the system would barely be able to meet year-round demand.

Council members raised no objections to moving forward with the project.

“I don’t have any problem with (the well). We need that there,” said Richardson.

“I really think this is the time to bid on the well,” said Councilman Wesley Garris in agreement. “The water system needs to support the water system.”

Rowe said that any adjustments to the water rate would need to be proposed quickly in order to determine which portions of the budget would be cut to balance changes. He expressed confidence in the strength of the budget.

“There’s no reduction of services in the budget, and I think that (these things are) really important in these recessionary times,” said Rowe. “We are spending less money next year in both of our large funds.”

The budget is available for viewing at the Town of Windsor’s Web site, as well as at public locations including the library and town hall. A public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, May 26, and the council is expected to vote for adoption at its June 9 meeting.