The water and sewer budget report, which the City Council did not hear at the May 4 work session, includes a request for a 4.5 percent water and sewer rate increase.
The City Council is reportedly scheduled to discuss the report at a Tuesday, May 11 work session. It will be the third time the water and sewer budget report has been on a work session agenda, and maybe the third time will be the charm.
The proposed increase is 4.5 percent for both customers inside and outside the city limits for the 2021-2022 fiscal year, which begins July 1. Greensboro water and sewer customers outside the city limits pay about 2.5 times the inside rate. For those inside the city, the increase for an average customer will be $2.12 per month, and for those outside $5.28 a month.
According to the report, Greensboro currently has lower water and sewer rates than Winston-Salem, Durham, Charlotte, Raleigh, High Point and a bunch of other cities. Burlington does, however, have lower rates than Greensboro.
Water Resources, like everything else in the country, was affected by the COVID-19 shut downs. Currently the water department is owed about $1.5 million in outstanding bills.
Water Resources Department Director Mike Borchers said that his department is working with the Neighborhood Development Department to assist those who are eligible in applying for federal funding to help pay their bills. The federal rental assistance programs also have money available to help people pay their utility bills, including water and sewer.
Borchers said, “It is our hope and expectation to collect the vast majority of that.” He added that he also expected it would take some time for those bills to be paid.
Another major effect COVID-19 had on the Water Resources department was a significant reduction in commercial water usage, which resulted in a reduction in revenue.
Borchers said that because of the reduced revenue, “we tightened our budgets,” and one way of doing that was reducing expenditures on capital improvement projects.
Borchers said that with revenues picking back up and with the additional revenue from the rate increase, he hoped to be able to get back on schedule with the capital improvement program.
The Water Resources goal was to be on schedule to rehabilitate 1 percent of the water and sewer lines in the city every year by 2023, and because of the reduction in capital improvement projects that goal has been pushed back to 2027.