ROSEBORO — Residents in the western town will see an increase in their water and sewer bills beginning in October.
After tabling the idea that was originally presented during the June meeting by Commissioner Alice Butler, the town board has voted unanimously, 4-0 — Commissioner Cary Holland was absent — to increase water and sewer rates beginning in the month of October. Readings will be done next week, but the increase will not take effect until the September readings are made.
In all, in-town residents could see a monthly increase of $1.50 per month and out-of-town residents could see an increase of $2.30 per month.
Water rates for in-town residents will increase 75 cents, from a base of $17 per month for up to 3,000 gallons, to $17.75 per month for the base rate, according to Tony Blalock, town clerk. The water rate for out-of-town residents will increase from the monthly rate of $19 to $20.15, an increase of $1.15 per month. Sewer rates will follow the same increase.
The increase will generate approximately $12,400 in revenue for the town.
According to Butler during the June meeting, and Blalock reiterated the facts during Tuesday night’s meeting, the board has been told by auditing services and the Local Government Commission that what the town currently charges isn’t enough to cover the total cost of the services provided to the town’s residents.
“According to the LGC, the water and sewer fund is not where it needs to be,” commissioner Ray Clark Fisher said. “We are not gaining anything on it or even getting enough money to operate. We are operating on a very tight margin in the water/sewer department.”
In comparison to other towns nearby, Roseboro’s rates are substantially lower. Considering the 3,000 gallon as a base limit, a Roseboro customer would pay $36 per month for water and sewer, while customers in Newton Grove are paying $45.60 and customers in Stedman are paying $58.50, for the same amount of usage.
Roseboro’s rates are still substantially lower with the increase, with customers now paying $37.50.
Commissioners Fisher and Richard Barefoot spoke against the increase during June, and continued to speak against the issue Tuesday night, making their vote with hesitation.
“We have to do something with the water and sewer fund,” Fisher said. “I hate raising the rates, but I don’t know what else we can do.”
Barefoot, who made it clear in June that he felt taxes were high enough, only drove home his point when stating similar feelings Tuesday night.
“I’m not for raising fees and taxes,” Barefoot stated. “Unfortunately, this has to be done.”
Butler, who agreed with Barefoot during June’s meeting, saying that the town’s taxes are high, said earlier she felt raising the water/sewer fees was the only solution to the town’s problem with the department’s budget.
“At least this way we are getting everybody who lives in Roseboro and not just the property owners,” Butler said.
Fisher voiced his agreement with Barefoot, saying he wasn’t happy about raising water rates, but knew it was a decision that had to be made.
“When it comes time for us to reduce, I want some support then,” Fisher said.
Sampson County purchases water from the town of Roseboro for use in Autryville. According to Blalock, the last time water sold to the county saw an increase was three and a half years ago.
“There budget has been set for the coming year,” Blalock said. “They need as much notice as they can get before we increase their cost.”
Blalock suggested the board look into raising the county’s expense in January for next year and not increase the county’s cost at this time.
“This is something that needs a lot more thought,” Barefoot concluded.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.