Tryon water customers face higher charges

Published 1:53 pm Monday, July 7, 2008

Tryon has approved a new rate structure for water and sewer that will result in higher charges for customers unless they use less water.

In the town&squo;s new budget, which took effect Tuesday, the town has lowered the volume of water covered under the base rate from 2,400 gallons per month to 1,000 gallons per month. Customers will begin facing additional charges above the base rate when they exceed 1,000 gallons.

The average water usage for residential customers is 3,600 gallons per month, according to the town. A residential customer inside the town who uses about 3,600 gallons per month will see an increase on their bill for water and sewer of about $10 per month, or about 17 percent. A customer outside the town who uses about 3,600 gallons per month will see an increase of nearly $30 per month, or about 21 percent.

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The difference results from a higher rate for outside customers who exceed the volume allowed under the base rate. The town charges inside customers $3.92 for each additional thousand gallons above the base rate maximum, while it charges outside customers $11.76 for each additional thousand gallons.

The base rates remain unchanged at $14.71 for inside residential customers and $32.30 for outside residential customers. Sewer charges continued to be calculated as 150 percent of water charges.

N.C. Gov Mike Easley has urged local governments, particularly those who are struggling with limited water supplies, to raise rates as a means of encouraging more conservation.

Tryon Interim Town Manager Robert Shepherd says that is the purpose of Tryon&squo;s amended rate structure, which was approved by the town&squo;s Public Works Committee.

The town manager cites &dquo;incentive for water conservation and protection of low-volume users, who are often older and on fixed incomes,&dquo; as benefits of the change.

He adds that the amended rate structure will provide the necessary revenue to support debt financing for the town&squo;s drought emergency water projects. (See more on the budget in a press release on page 5.)