In an effort to shore up its water and sewer fund, the Town of Herndon is considering increasing water and sewer rates.
If approved, the quarterly service charge for water would increase by nearly 18% or roughly $10.54. For water rates per every 1,000 gallon used, the charge would be more nominal — a little over 3%.
The quarterly service charge would increase by $7.40. Billing schedules are determined based on the size of the meter.
There would be an additional charge of $5.64 per 1,000 gallons for all water used during peak periods — defined as July through November — and greater than the average use in the previous two quarters.
“If this rate increase proposal is not chosen, retained earnings will need to be used to cover the variance,” staff noted.
Councilmember Pradip Dhakal said the town should consider evaluating the industry standard definition of “peak periods.”
“Does it make sense to only apply that for summer uses and remove that for, I would say, the latter three months? Dhakal said at a council meeting on Wednesday (April 6).
The proposal was discussed at an April 5 work session as part of the town’s deliberations on the budget for the next fiscal year.
If approved, all changes would take in effect on or after July 1 of this year.
The town is expected to continue discussion at a work session on April 12. Town manager Bill Ashton expects to examine the issue, including how to define peak periods.
Sewer service bills are slated to increase by $38 on average, even with Fairfax County lowering a series of annual increases.
Fairfax County unveiled a proposed budget in February, which would increase a variety of sewer costs. The county noted the increases are lower than what it approved last year in a five-year service schedule.
The proposed changes call for the following:
- The sewer service charge per 1,000 gallons of water, currently $7.72, would become $8.09 — a 4.8% increase — for the upcoming fiscal year, which runs from July to June. The rate would increase each subsequent year, becoming $8.41, $8.73, $9.21 and $9.67.
- The quarterly sewer base charge, currently $36.54, would become $40.14 — a 9.9% increase. The rate each subsequent year would then be $44.43, $49.09, $51.79 and finally $54.38. Rates would vary based on connection line sizes.
- One-time hookup charges are proposed to increase from $8,507 to $8,592, a 1% increase, for a single-family residence starting in July and 1% annual increases for the following four fiscal years.
The county commented on the potential increases in a proposed budget:
The annual average customer bill will increase from $640.24 in FY 2022 to $678.32 in FY 2023, an annual cost increase of $38.08 or 5.95 percent. The FY 2023 average bill in Fairfax County is one of the lowest compared to the average bill in other regional jurisdictions even with the proposed increases. The increases in the Sewer Service Charge and Base Charge from FY 2024 to FY 2027 will partially offset the increased costs associated with capital project construction, system operation and maintenance, debt service and upgrades to meet new, more stringent nitrogen discharge limitations from wastewater treatment plants.
County supervisors are slated to adopt the budget in May, following public hearings. The county plans to hold a hearing regarding the proposed sewer rate changes for 3 p.m. April 12, provided the county agrees on the timeline tomorrow (Tuesday).