Customers of the Bedford Regional Water Authority will see a rate increase for water and sewer services beginning in June.
Billing rates for fiscal year 2021-22 were adopted on a 7-0 vote at the authority’s board of directors meeting Tuesday after a public hearing where no members of the public spoke, according to a news release. Rate increases will go into effect June 1 and will be used for all billing statements after June 30.
The average customer using about 4,000 gallons of water per month will have a monthly rate increase of about $2.53 for water and $2.17 for sewer. The rate for bulk fill stations will be $12 for every 1,000 gallons of water.
“The conversations that the board, Finance Committee, and staff have had surrounding the budget and rate change have been analytical, thoughtful, and challenging,” said Jill Underwood, director of finance for the authority, in a news release. “Balancing the needs of the community with the Authority’s ability to continue to provide service with as few interruptions as possible, is always a fine balance to achieve. We believe that instating rate changes this year will allow us to continue to improve our service while not causing a large impact on our customers.”
The authority is in year eight of a 10-year equalization process that eventually combines the former Bedford County Public Service Authority and former City of Bedford Water and Sewer department rates. The authority’s rates are based on a 2013 rate study conducted by Draper Aden Associates when the authority was created.
When Bedford reverted from a city to a town, the former Bedford County Public Service Authority and the former City of Bedford water and wastewater utility departments united in the Bedford Regional Water Authority in 2013, said Megan Pittman, director of administration at the authority.
The former two entities at the time had different rate structures, and the authority’s rate study concluded the best way to merge the rates into one would be an equalization process, slowly combining the different rate structures by gradual, incremental changes during a period of 10 years.
Last year, the authority postponed rate changes because of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, trying to avoid adding financial strain on customers who might have struggled during that time. Disconnections because of late payments also were suspended.
To avoid more dramatic rate changes in the future, the authority said in a news release, the board decided to move ahead with the rate equalization in 2021. Disconnections remain suspended at this time, Pittman said.
Aware some customers still are affected by the pandemic, the authority has payment plan options for qualifying customers in need of financial assistance. Some community organizations, including the Agape Center, Bedford Christian Ministries, the Salvation Army, Lake Christian Ministries, Interfaith Outreach Association and Lynchburg Community Action Group are offering utility bill assistance, according to the authority. A list of organizations offering assistance can be found on the authority’s website at: brwa.com.
For more information about payment plans, customers can contact the authority at:(540) 586-7679.