Water and sewer rates in Albemarle County and Charlottesville will remain the same going into the new fiscal year.
Working with the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority, the Albemarle County Service Authority and the city of Charlottesville are proposing no rate increases for water and sewer services.
RWSA is proposing keeping the wholesale rates it charges the service authority and the city for water at $2.09 per 1,000 gallons and for sewer at $2.36 per 1,000 gallons.
“We thought it was important for our customers that, given the economic environment, we not request a rate increase from the board,” ACSA Executive Director Gary O’Connell told the authority’s board during its virtual meeting Thursday.
Since the rates are not changing, the City Council will not hold a public hearing.
Charlottesville’s utilities director, Lauren Hildebrand, said the city’s natural gas base rate also will remain the same, but the monthly Purchase Gas Adjustment will continue to change based on the cost of natural gas. The city provides natural gas to customers in Charlottesville and in the urban ring of Albemarle.
The ACSA board is scheduled to hold a public hearing on its proposed water and sewer rates at 9 a.m. June 18. It is still to be determined whether that meeting will be held at the authority’s office at 168 Spotnap Road or be held virtually.
The ACSA serves customers in urban Albemarle, Crozet and Scottsville.
The monthly service charge is also proposed to remain the same at $8.57. The five-year average increase in a typical ACSA residential customer bill is 3.84%.
On Thursday, one of the ACSA board members asked about future rate increases and if increases will be able to be kept around 5%.
“We will provide different options, but there are going to have to be sacrifices made if the intent is to keep the rate low,” said Quin Lunsford, ACSA’s director of finance. “This is pretty historic — the complete redesign of the budget and the proposals to limit immediate impact on our customers. This was a drastic change.”
O’Connell said they will talk about future projects and budgeting again in the fall.
“Particularly, in Rivanna’s case, they’ve pushed off some projects to the next one or two years, and if we don’t change the whole capital improvement schedule, then we’re going to see a big rate increase next year and maybe the couple years after that,” he said.
Without changes in RWSA’s capital program, O’Connell said the estimates are somewhere between a 17% and 20% wholesale rate increase next year.
“But we’re going to have to have some active discussions with Rivanna [staff] and the Rivanna board about the scheduling of future projects to really have an impact, or we’ll dive into our reserves so quick that we can’t handle it,” he said.
The RWSA board is scheduled to meet virtually at 2:15 p.m. Tuesday.