Rehoboth water and wastewater bills are going up. While homeowners have known for months rates are increasing, commissioners are set to make those increases official during a meeting April 24.
In November, city consultant Massachusetts-based The Abrahams Group revealed the results of a rate study showing a 60 percent rate increase for wastewater and a 30 percent increase for water were needed to pay for the $42 million ocean outfall project. Another $17 million in capital improvements is between the two utilities through fiscal year 2023.
Commissioners approved the rate increases when the budget was passed in March, but no dollar amounts were set. During a workshop April 8, commissioners agreed to move forward on the new rates.
For wastewater, customers with a 1-inch meter will now pay a service charge of $19.34 per billing cycle, 1.5-inch meter customers will pay $27.04, 2-inch meter customers will pay $34.85, 3-inch meter customers will pay $56.16 and customers with a meter size of 4 inches or greater will pay $1,062.88.
There will be a base wastewater charge of $6.59 per 1,000 gallons and a peak-use surcharge of $9.68 per 1,000 gallons. The peak season surcharge is added to the base volume charge during the second and third billing periods – April through September.
Water customers with a 1-inch meter pay a service charge of $12.35 per billing cycle, 1.5-inch meter customers will pay $17.36, 2-inch meter customers will pay $22.30, 3-inch meter customers will pay $35.82, and customers with a meter size of 4 inches or greater will pay $135.53.
There will be a base water charge of $2.73 per 1,000 gallons and a peak-use surcharge of $4.03 per 1,000 gallons. The peak season for the water utility is the same as the wastewater utility.
Additionally, for the water utility, the rate for Breezewood has been set at 1.5 times the meter charges above, while all other metered locations outside of city limits pay two times the citywide rate.
In an email April 15, Public Works Director Kevin Williams said there are 2,343 metered accounts for in-town residents and businesses. He said there are 2,233 1-inch meters, 59 1.5-inch meters, 33 2-inch meters, 16 3-inch meters and two 4-inch meters.
The new rates are a stopgap while a working group continues to develop a new rate structure for Rehoboth wastewater and water users to recommend to the mayor.
During the April 8 meeting, Williams, who chairs the working group, said he expected to have a proposal for the commissioners to examine in May or June.
Williams said the working group is close to a recommendation related to sewer, but more work is needed on water. He said water is a little trickier because of in-town users, out-of-town users and peak-usage rates.
For wastewater, Williams said, the group is looking toward an administrative ready-to-serve fee of about $28 a bill, which would bring in roughly $290,000.
The wastewater utility has about $1.5 million in reserves from an earlier surcharge. Williams said the group is looking to apply $250,000 toward the deficit amounts for six years, beginning in 2020. This money was collected to help pay for the utility improvements, and it might as well be used, he said.
Williams said the group is looking toward a recommendation that would base rates on flow and also get rid of peak and nonpeak rates.