WAGRAM —Wagram’s rates for water and and sewer services are way too low, according to officials with the Lumber River Council of Governments.
The community development agency recommended that the town charge more for the services during a special meeting Monday of the Wagram Board of Commissioners.
Jean Cline with Lumber River Council of Governments said current water and sewer rates are insufficient to meet the operating expenses of the systems. Currently the flat water rate charged by Wagram is $16; and the flat rate for sewer is $17.
“The water system gets by, but the sewer system does not,” Cline said.
She suggested the board think about the rates and how to generate revenue to meet operating expenses. This year, unlike the prior two years, the town will spend more money on the systems than it will take in.
She added that the services are becoming “more of a liability than an asset.”
Mayor Milton Farmer said the board has had previous discussions about rate hikes, but is concerned about the impact on seniors. The town has not increased rates in five years.
Town Clerk Phyllis Lowery said the rate increase would be based on usage.
“As far as the rate thing though, I can see that if you had over a 1,000 customers but we only have 300 customers,” Lowery said. “So if you change the rates based on water usage… you don’t have a lot of people that use high volumes. Most people use the least amount of consumption and the only time they have a high volume is if they have a water leak.”
Commissioner Hyder Massey suggested raising the rates every other year starting in July. The town is also considering an increase in recycling by $1.50. The town currently charges $13.50 for recycling.
No final decision was made on any of the rates.
Also on Monday, Jim Perry with LRCOG, gave a presentation on a new mapping program for water/sewer employees.
The maps will provide town workers with detailed information on buildings, streets, as well as things like potholes.
Perry showed the board a spreadsheet pinpointing the exact locations of waterlines in the town. With one click, the map detailed what type, length and size of the pipes running on that street.
“You can’t mess it up. The only way to change it is to go back in to the data and change the maps. We want you to play with it,” he told the board.
The program is freee to the town.
“You are getting some GIS mapping tools without paying thousands of dollars. You are getting a basic set of maps, but you are not having to buy the software that you will never use because part of it is too complicated. This is easy to use and a heck of a lot cheaper,” said Perry.
Monday’s meeting was continued from the monthly board meeting May 5. The next meeting is June 1.
Maria D. Grandy can be reached at 910-506-3171.