Since Thomas Morgan moved to Brunswick Crossing in 2017, his water and sewage bills have increased significantly.
And now he’s being dealt another increase.
Morgan estimates that with the newly passed water and sewer rates for fiscal 2020, his bill increased 31 percent since he came to Brunswick.
“If I were running a business and saw a line item with that year-over-year increase, I’d immediately start looking for a cheaper alternative,” Morgan said in a public comment session at the biweekly Brunswick mayor and City Council meeting.
The council unanimously approved the new water and sewer rates Tuesday along with the general budget and enterprise fund.
With the new increase, the base rate will be $4 more every quarter, with the water excess for each quarter for tier one rate increasing by 67 cents, tier two up by $1.20 and tier three rising by $1.25.
The rate increases are partially due to state mandates, rising prices for water treatment and operational costs, said City Administrator David Dunn.
“Everything that comes to water and sewer goes up every year,” Dunn said.
The city also raised prices due to the Yourtee Springs failure, which required them to get water at other sources, which meant heftier prices for treating water. Fixing Yourtee Springs is one of the projects that fall under the water and sewer enterprise fund projects for the next year. The fund, which pulls from water and wastewater revenue, was also used to replace water meters.
The town estimates it will bring in $1,691,200 from water service charges and $1,539,900 from wastewater service charges in fiscal 2020.
“I know it’s not a very popular thing to raise water and sewer rates, but when you don’t, you really pay for it later. Expenses go up. The operational costs go up,” Dunn said.
With the enterprise fund, the city can repair and improve the water and sewer system in hopes of preventing the rates from continuing to go up, he said.
Councilman Tom Smith, who sits on the finance committee, said that increases can be misleading when they are described as percentages.
The $4 quarterly increase for the base rate is an increase of 8 percent. Tier one water excess rates rose by 9 percent, and tier two and three are up by 10 percent each. But the percentages make it look like more money, Smith said.
“So people look at in terms of, OK, it was a 9 percent increase, a 10 percent increase, that’s a lot of money and all that,” Smith said. “And you go back and look at the actual figures, 67 cents for every three months is not a lot of money.”
The council also unanimously approved the fiscal 2020 budget for the general fund and enterprise fund with little comment on either.
The city projects a balanced general fund budget, bringing in $6,190,150 through taxes, grants, licenses, fines, fees and other sources. To operate the city, the city staff and council will likely spend $5,929,850 between salaries and projects. The remaining $260,300 will be sent to pay off debt.
The majority of expensive projects deal with stormwater or damage that remains from the flooding more than a year ago, such as the Martin’s Creek tunnel.