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What Will Water Rate Hike Cost You?

The Bristol County Water Authority is scheduled to meet tomorrow night, Jan. 9, to vote on a proposed 12-percent increase for fiscal 2014.

As the Bristol County Water Authority Board of Directors has brought their proposed rate hikes to the public over the past month, the key concern for customers is the additional cost they'll face.

The board is scheduled to meet tomorrow at 5:15 pm at the BCWA office in Warren, and is expected to vote on the proposed 28-percent increase over the next five years.

Here's a review of the facts and figures in the BCWA plan:

What are the proposed increases?

According to the BCWA proposal, water rates would go up 12 percent in fiscal 2014, then 4 percent in each of the next four years — a total of 28 percent.

See the table at the bottom of this article to see the year-to-year comparisons.

Why is BCWA seeking these increases?

Executive Director Pamela Marchand has said during recent public hearings that the agency will run out of operating funds in 2013 unless it raises more revenue through rate hikes. 

During the Jan. 3 hearing in Warren, Marchand explained that about 34 percent of the increase would pay for cleaning and updating the current system, with 17 percent covering expected increases in Providence Water costs and another 17 percent paying for three new staff positions.

What's the rush?

Several residents and town officials questioned the BCWA board about the timing of the planned increases, including public hearings held over the Christmas holiday and a potential approval in mid-winter.

Marchand explained during an interview before the Jan. 3 session that BCWA's fiscal year begins March 1, "so we need to have a budget in place by the end of January."

Approving the budget would then allow the agency to issue new bills for the upcoming fiscal year and start collecting revenue to cover its operations, Marchand said.

"For the rate increase, with our existing [billing] system, it takes about four weeks to get that set up, so we really have until the end of January, the latest, to get all of this in place," explained Marchand. "Any rate increase that is passed would become effective as of March 1 — that's when we would start billing them for that [additional] amount."

How soon will bills go up?

After the start of the fiscal year, Marchand explained that customers will get "mixed bills," meaning January and February would be billed at the current rate, while the increase would affect the March bill.

"So [customers] might receive one month under the new rate and two months of the old rate until you've passed three months down the line," added Marchand. "It won't be into full effect until we've gone through a full quarter."

How to determine your increase:

The following table includes information provided by Marchand at the Jan. 3, 2013 hearing in Warren.


Usage 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 Average 1,500 $102.15 $114.41 $124.09 $129.89 $135.10 $141.40 Increase

$4.09 $3.23 $1.93 $1.74 $2.10







Lifeline-300 600 $77.96 $87.31 $87.31 $89.70 $94.24 $99.23 Increase

$3.12 $0 $.80 $1.51 $1.66

Notes:

  • According to Marchand, the agency plans to create a billing level called "Lifeline 300," provided primarily to elderly customers who typically use less water.
  • Usage is measured per quarter.
  • Increase in costs is shown per month; multiply by 3 to get increase per quarterly billing cycle.

Have your say: How much will the proposed rate hikes affect you? Based on your current consumption, how much more will you be paying?

Post your comments below.

Gary Morse January 09, 2013 at 02:39 PM
Along with many problems at BCWA, it appears Ms Marchand is having problems with simple math. The BCWA proposed rate hike in the above story is that the increase represents: 12%, 4%, 4% 4%, 4%, or a total compounded 5 year increase of 31% (not 28% as reported). But another math problem shows up in the above chart showing the "average" rate increase which works out to being: 12%, 8.46%, 4.674%, 4%, 4.663%, or a total compounded 5 year increase of 38.4%, more than 10 percentage points above what is in the story. Will the town councils be concerned that BCWA still is having problems with basic management skills, and transparency? We will know the answer if they show up for the board vote at tonight's BCWA meeting and speak out on this. Rate payers need to be there as well.

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