Water/sewer rate increase likely for Tryon customers

Published 12:55 pm Friday, May 22, 2009

Tryon water customers will likely see some increases in the town&39;s water and/or sewer rates this year as the town is projecting a $140,671 enterprise fund deficit for fiscal year 2009-2010.

Tryon Town Council agreed Tuesday to hold another workshop to discuss the budget sometime during the week of June 8. Engineer Jonathan Hollifield, PE, the town&squo;s consulting engineer, presented council with some options for restructuring the water and sewer fund.

Hollifield said the town has been trying to raise revenues to do the upgrades at its water plant. Last year the town lowered its minimum usage requirements in hopes of bringing in more revenue, but water usage and revenues have dropped since voluntary and mandatory water restrictions were put in place because of the drought.

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Grover Industries, one of the town&squo;s largest water users, also closed during the current fiscal year, which also hurt the town&squo;s revenues, Hollifield said. Tryon has seen a 17 to 18 percent decrease in water usage during the recent drought.

Hollifield said there are several ways to restructure water rates to gain more revenue, but the best is to raise the base rate. That way, the town is guaranteed a certain amount of revenue instead of depending on usage. Another option Hollifield mentioned was to add a surcharge for times of drought and restrictions in anticipation of the lower usage, Hollifield said.

No actual figures have been discussed by town council regarding possible rate increases. Interim town manager Justin Hembree has not yet submitted a recommended budget for the town&squo;s water and sewer departments.