PILOT MOUNTAIN — Residents of Pilot Mountain will see their water and sewer bills rise by an average of 7 percent, mostly to pay for the cost of updating the town’s water and sewer system.
The decision came to add a $5 infrastructure investment fee during Monday night’s commissioners meeting.
Currently, the town’s water and sewer system is outdated and in need of repair. The sewage plant could become inoperable at any moment, according to Town Manager Michael Boaz.
In the event of a failure, the town would be in an emergency situation that would pose a health and sanitation risk to residents.
“Such an emergency would invite a state-operated takeover that could raise residents’ taxes and double or even triple water and sewer rates to pay for the repairs,” said Commissioner Evan Cockerham.
The new fee will be broken into two parts, $2.50 will be added to the town’s water rates, and $2.50 will be added to sewer rates.
Boaz explained water-only customers will see an increase of $2.50. Likewise, any none-water user who is a sewer customer will only see an increase per month by $2.50.
Residents can expect their bill to go up by the end of April, or the next billing cycle, stated Boaz.
According to Boaz, the average resident uses about 4,400 gallons of water per month. The average bill for that amount of usage prior to the increase was $68.63. The increase will bring the average bill to $73.63.
The town provides water service to 1,011 residential customers, and four commercial customers, according to Boaz.
Sewer services are provided to around 821 residential customers and four commercial customers.
However, those numbers are not reflective to the type of use, but the type of service connection.
“There are far more than four businesses in Pilot Mountain that we provide service to. However, most of those are done through a smaller service line that is more residential in nature,” explained Boaz.
Commissioner Evan Cockerham expressed his concern about what would happen if the board had not decided to raise the rates.
“This will protect us from an extreme rate increase in the future,” stated Cockerham. “If we don’t do this now we could looking at an obscene increase of 200 to 300 percent in the future.”
The town plans to pay for the infrastructure updates through NC Connect bonds that were approved at the state level via a referendum
“This fee would generate an additional $54,990 per year to be used for infrastructure projects,” said Boaz.
“We currently meet the qualifications to apply for a 25 percent grant. However, with the rate increase the town will qualify for a 50 percent grant option,” said Cockerham.
Commissioner Gary Bell stated, “This is the last thing we want to do to our residents.”
Commissioner Linda Needham replied, “You’re right, but out hands are tied.”