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Aiken takes steps toward 7% water and sewer hike

Updated: May. 25, 2021 at 10:55 AM EDT
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - The Aiken City Council this week gave preliminary approval to a 7 percent increase in water and sewer rates that could take effect as soon as July 1.

A large part of that increase, 4 percent, would go toward building a new water plant. City staff told the council at Monday’s meeting that the new plant would have a useful life of about 50 years and would cost about $40 million. The increase would also help pay for infrastructure repairs.

The council was told the increase would be less than $3 per month for many customers.

The 7 percent increase itself didn’t raise a lot of discussion at Monday’s council meeting.

However, Councilman Ed Woltz questioned why some customers’ base rate differs from others’.

The council was told there are nine different base rates in the city, and they are based on the size of the pipe and meter that serve the customer. The larger the meter, the faster the water is delivered. So if two customers used the same amount of water but one had a bigger meter, that user would have a higher water bill. The meter size is often chosen by the developer.

In answer to why base rates differ even for people who use the same amount of water, the city staff told Woltz that’s the industry standard.

“I just don’t think that we should be charging residential customers different rates,” Woltz said.

“‘Well, that’s just the way we do it’ isn’t an answer,” Woltz said. “That’s a, ‘Don’t ask me the question; I don’t have a good answer.’”

The city staff told him it’s an issue that could certainly be addressed if the council wants that to be the case.

After discussion, the council voted unanimously to move forward on the first reading of item but requested clarification and possible changes from the city staff on the issue of differing base rates.

PROPOSED WATER/SEWER RATES IN AIKEN:

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