Only three community members showed up to speak about the
proposed increased rates and alternative rate structure during the Cape Fear
Utility Public Authority board meeting.
The meeting, held on March 13 at the Government Center, was
moved from its normal time at 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. to allow customers to voice
comments and concerns about the rates.
Chad O’Shields, who has been following the discussion and
attending CFPUA financial committee meetings, said the tiered rate structure is
punitive to families in the area.
“The number of people in a household directly affects the
amount of water used,” O’Shields said.
He opposed the financial committee’s preferred of three
scenarios for new rate structures, scenario A, which would charge customers
using under 6,000 gallons 85 percent the cost of water at $2.90 per 1,000
gallons. Scenario A would increase the cost of water to $3.67 per 1,000 gallons
for customers using more than 6,000 gallons.
“To me, it was very unclear to call it a uniform rate,”
O’Shields said. “It’s a inclining block rate. ... The block rate is
discriminatory. Families are charged a high prices for their basic water
Before the public hearing, Cheryl Spivey, chief financial
officer, gave a presentation about the three proposed scenarios that would
generate an additional 4 percent in revenues to fund the fiscal year 2013
budget, increasing revenues from $65.1 million to $62.53 million. The majority
of the increase would come from sewer fixed charges.
“Our water expenses have hardly gone up this year,” Spivey
said. “It’s more expensive to maintain and operate our sewer system.”
The estimated average customer gallons usage in the
presentation is 10,000 gallons. The raw data has the average at 9,200 gallons,
and the median usage at 7,000 gallons.
“We went with the higher number,” Spivey said.
Treasurer Mike Brown stressed that currently 81 percent of
the 67,000 CFPUA water customers are paying below the cost of water. He said he
does not think it is fair for business owners to pay for the brunt of water.
CFPUA board members have a month to discuss the information
presented at the meeting, before voting at the April 10 meeting. Any changes
would go into effect May 1.