Everything from gasoline to food to interest rates is going up and now Charlottesville utility customers could see a price hike, if the city council approves the proposed utilities rates for the next fiscal year 2023.
The Charlottesville City Council held its first public hearing on the proposed rates Monday night, following a presentation from the city’s utilities department.
The city is proposing rates of $69.75 per 1,000 cubic feet of water; $83.80 per 1,000 cubic feet of wastewater; and $97.65 per 8,000 cubic feet of natural gas.
The average residential water customer is using 400 cubic feet per month and the average residential gas customer is using 4,600 cubic feet per month. For city residential customers getting city water, sewer, stormwater and natural gas service – about 87.5% of residents – bills are expected to rise about $3.82 per month, or 3.07%.
For residential customers who receive just water, wastewater and stormwater service, their utility bill will increase by $4.62 per month, or 5.90%. There is no change in stormwater services.
The increases would go into effect July 1.
Each of the city’s utilities is accounted for separately as ‘enterprise funds’ that operate on a self-supporting basis, meaning each utility is required to cover the costs of providing its service. City utilities are funded only through their rates, fees and charges and receive no city tax dollars. The city does not make a profit on utilities.
“We operate on a break-even basis,” said Chris Cullinan, the city’s finance director.
Utility rates are calculated annually to bring each fund to a break-even point. Unexpected factors such as weather, total usage and the number of customers can create unexpected and unanticipated operating surpluses or deficits during the year.
Cullinan said the increases are to reach the city’s revenue requirements for utilities, which include covering some purchase of services, debt service and operational costs.
Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority, which provides the treatment services for the city, is one of the largest fixed cost elements for the water and wastewater budgets. As much as 51% of the water budget goes to RWSA for debt service and water purchased.
For the next fiscal year, RWSA rates have increased and those hikes are included in the city’s proposed utility rates. These rates will stay the same throughout the fiscal year.
“Gas rates are a little unique,” Cullinan said. “Natural gas is a commodity that is traded on a daily basis, so gas rates are adjusted every month to account for changes in the cost of gas. When the price of gas goes up, we pass that increase along, but when the price goes down, we pass that reduction along as well.”
The proposed rates will be voted on at the council’s June 20 meeting. It is scheduled as a consent agenda item, which means there is no public comment expected and no separate vote taken.
The proposed rate report can be found at https://www.charlottesville.gov/602/Utility-Billing.