Dixie Inn looking at raising water rates

DIXIE INN — Water and sewer rates may be going up in the Village of Dixie Inn.

A workshop with the village council will be held in the next couple of weeks to discuss increasing water and sewer rates to help pay for repairs to an aging system. Mayor Kay Stratton said raising rates has been discussed for years but never came to fruition, and now it is getting harder to obtain grants to pay for upgrades or replacements.

“We haven’t had a rate increase in forever, and it’s been brought up several times since I’ve been in office,” she said. “Chemicals are costing more now, and it costs more to do repairs. We’ve put in for grants, and we haven’t been approved for those, and it’s getting harder and harder to get them.”

Income for the utility fund has fluctuated over the last six months, and she blames the aging system. New meters and lines were installed throughout the village in the 1970s, and some of the meters and lines are from the original infrastructure, she said.

“We’re thinking the water meters are slowing down, because many may not be reading accurately,” she said. “We just need to sit down with the council and look at the numbers. We’re looking at adding a $1 to the base rate and see if we can get new water meters installed to see if that helps.”

Although nothing is set in stone, Stratton said discussion already has been underway proposing to increase the base rate of residential water from $9.50 for the first 2,000 gallons to $10.50, and the residential sewer rate from $3 for the first 1,000 gallons to $3.50.

Commercial water rates would go from $26.50 for the first 2,000 gallons to $27.50. The commercial sewer rate is $3.40 for the first 1,000 gallons.

No increases would be added to the garbage fee. Every customer pays $10.25 per month.

Over the last six months, income for utilities is about $100,000, which includes income from garbage, sewer and water as well as interest and miscellaneous income.

Expenses for January through July were about $157,000, leaving the village about $57,000 short. So far this year, they have paid out about $68,000 in repairs and expenses for the water plant.

“We had some major repairs done to the sewer plant last year and that ran us about $30,000 or $40,000,” she said. “The bill came due at the first of the year. We didn’t have a grant to pay for it, so we had to pay it out of the utility fund.

“Our accountants are looking at long-term,” she continued, “such as what would happen if we had major repairs and weren’t able to get any grants to pay for it. We just need to start thinking about raising our rates slowly.”

A date for the workshop will be announced as soon as one is set.

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