The Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission may not be raising rates by as much as initially suggested due to Executive Director Jimmy Junkin’s efforts to find ways to offset some costs covered by water and sewer rates.
At the meeting Thursday Junkin said he had been working with the utility’s financial consultants to reduce the amount by which rates will be raised over the next 10 years.
“We have worked pretty hard since the (budget) workshop last Thursday to find areas to reduce the budget and expenses going forward to get that overall rate impact down,” Junkin said. “We’re still conferring with our rate consultant to finalize what they’ve done for us, so I’m not going to give you the numbers right now, but I think we could make a substantial impact on what we were looking at at the end of the meeting last Thursday.”
As referenced by Junkin, the commission held a budget workshop at which consultants made multiple recommendations on how to bring revenue up to the point where the utility can realistically begin paying for all the repairs and improvements the aging water and sewer systems need.
Two recommendations were made for rate increases. The commission decided to go with a gradual increase over the next 10 years, which would end with a cumulative increase of 67.6 percent in 2027.
Junkin also said he was still working on affordability programs for those that may not be able to keep up with rising rates. He said one option they were researching was asking customers to voluntarily have their bills rounded up to the nearest dollar and using the difference to help low-income customers.
This wouldn’t be a single solution, though, as they project getting $36-37,000 at most from the program, and they have around $600,000 of bad debt owed to them at any given moment.
Commissioners also discussed pre-purchasing supplies for the north mainland Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax sewer project, decreasing the amount they keep in their rainy-day fund and heard an end-of-month financial report for March.
They entered a closed session at the end of the meeting to discuss a complaint filed in Superior Court against them by the developers of the Carriage Gate subdivision off Buck Swamp Road. It was filed because the developer doesn’t believe that the utility’s sewer issues gives the it the right to stop them from tapping in to the sewer system. Junkin said they would also talk about how they will handle such cases in the future.
The next meeting of the full utility commission is scheduled for May 4 in its offices at 1703 Gloucester St. in Brunswick.