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Raleigh eyes dousing water customers with rate hike

Posted March 17, 2009

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— City officials are considering a 17 percent rate increase for customers of the municipal water and sewer systems to help close a projected budget deficit.

Mayor Charles Meeker said the increase would add about $5 a month to the average residential water bill.

Sprinkler Raleigh water revenues drying up

The city's Public Utilities Department is funded by charges for water and sewer service, and the combination of water conservation and the slowdown in local development has left the department about $13 million short of its revenue projection for the current fiscal year, which ends in June.

"If people conserve like you ask them to, then the fund is short of money," Meeker said.

Meeker and other city officials urged residents to cut their water consumption as recently as a year ago, when a record-breaking drought was gripping North Carolina.

"(It was) a very dry time in weather and in business," said Joshua Logan, owner of Logan's Trading Company.

Logan said his Raleigh nursery sold more rain barrels than plants in late 2007 and early 2008 as residents tried to conserve water and recycle rain for irrigation.

"This time last year, we were ordering these (barrels) by the truckload. There was a lot, (and) businesses in the area were competing for a limited supply," he said.

The City Council could vote on the new water rates during its April meeting.

Resident Tyson Warren said he doesn't think raising rates is a fair way to close the budget gap.

"You do the right thing, and you still get taxed for it," Warren said. "I wish they would come up with a better solution."

The rate increase is separate from Raleigh's plan to implement tiered water rates that would charge a higher rate to customers who use more water.

The tiered rates are scheduled to go into effect in December, but Public Utilities Director Dale Crisp said in a memo that they might have to be delayed until July 2010 if the department continues to run at a deficit.

Conservation would eliminate the added revenue from the higher rates, and the city would end up spending more sending out monthly bills instead of billing every other month, Crisp said.

28 Comments

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  • pack-man Mar 18, 2009

    durham crushed me last year. raleigh is still a deal compared to durham for water.

  • radixlecti Mar 18, 2009

    Haven't they soaked us enough?

  • baracus Mar 18, 2009

    "do tell, good Mayor, what has Meekerville done to help offset this loss of revenue?"

    Maybe they could reduce costs by only offering water on the weekdays. Friday nights you could fill up your bathtub for water over the weekend. Skipping showering/bathing for a couple days won't hurt. Or they could cut back on the amount of chlorine/chloramine used. A little dysentery isn't so bad.

  • jockeyshiftspringer Mar 18, 2009

    "officials are considering a 17 percent rate increase"

    I feel sorry for you guys in Raleigh. You seem to be getting raped coming and going. It's sad.

  • ObamaMustGo aka NCcarguy Mar 18, 2009

    and you people thought TAX increases were the ONLY way your government could "raise revenue"...hahaha....I will say this though, I do prefer this over increased taxes, this way I'm not paying your bill! More CHANGE you can believe in!!! lol

  • SalemWWX Mar 18, 2009

    Perhaps Raleigh and Wake county, and NC for that matter should consider the possibility that it has grown beyond the point of diminishing returns.....

  • dcshadows Mar 18, 2009

    I passed by Meeker the other day, puny man. His governmental stature is the same. Don't you love the reward all politicians give you for doing the right thing. A swift kick in the wallet!

  • christisone Mar 18, 2009

    Charles, have you lost your mind. I know that you make a lot more money than we do, but you live in the city limits to. Do you pay water and sewer or does someone take care of that for you (if you know what I mean). Meeker please don't run for office again. I'm hoping that most of the people in Raleigh are getting a belly full of you.

  • dws Mar 18, 2009

    do tell, good Mayor, what has Meekerville done to help offset this loss of revenue?

    I hear crickets

  • arfamr1005 Mar 18, 2009

    glad I dont live in Raleigh...thye'll be charging local taxes on money paid for state taxes pretty soon...lets tax the tax dollars

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