The Lacey Municipal Utilities Authority (LMUA) approved raising water consumption rates by 4 percent at its annual rate hike hearing.
“It was necessary because the number of vacant homes and a reduction of water sales has decreased revenue,” Executive Director Edward Woolf said.
The adjustment to current water service charges is a $5.36 increase for the year. Depending on the meter size, the majority of Lacey ratepayers will pay $34.76 to $48.65 per quarter in 2013.
The rate increase is necessary to maintain the LMUA’s system and to meet its bond requirements, Woolf said.
In addition to the vacant homes, there were 1,464 delinquent accounts, amounting to $1.162 million, a number that has increased over time, Woolf said. That is 10 percent of the LMUA’s budgeted revenue.
There will be no increase in sewer rates for 2013 as the LMUA has been able to reduce the amount of wastewater to the Ocean County Utilities Authority.
Over the last five years, the LMUA embarked on an aggressive campaign to repair leaks, limiting the amount of tidal and rain water entering the system, he said.
The LMUA provides a collection of wastewater, which is then discharged to the OCUA and treated at the Central Plant in Bayville, Richard Warren, Executive Director of the OCUA previously said. The OCUA bills customers, such as the LMUA, based on the actual number of gallons discharged to the system.
The OCUA also didn’t increase its rates this year, he said.
With a $4.7 million sewer operation budget, $2.9 million goes to the OCUA, Woolf said.
In the future, the LMUA hopes to use two new wells as a form of rate stabilization.
“The new wells are installed and ready to go,” Woolf said.
The LMUA is currently expanding its water treatment plant, which should be completed in August, he said.
Although contracts are not in the works yet, the LMUA is hoping to bring water to other towns with the wells’ excess capacity, he said. But its first priority is ensuring safe water for Lacey’s future.
Proposed Adjustments to Current Water Service Charges
Quarterly Service Charge Meter Size (inches)
Metered Water Consumption Charge
$5.17 per 1,000 gallons
$5.38 per 1,000 gallons