Politics & Government

Higher water and sewer fees would have bigger impact than tax hike for most residents

The Charlotte City Council will likely debate in the next few weeks whether to enact a small property tax increase.

But increases in water and sewer fees will have a greater impact to homeowners, especially residents who are poor.

Charlotte Water has not asked for a rate increase, though it has asked that two monthly fees be increased. The first is a water and sewer “availability fee” that would be rise from $8.14 to $8.94 a month. A water and sewer “billing fee” would rise from $6.30 a month to $7.14 a month.

For someone living in a home with a taxable value of $141,100, the city’s median price, the proposed property tax increase would have a small impact, at $6.07 a year. The higher water and sewer fees would add $30.48 to that person’s annual tax and fee bill.

Rate and fee increases have become more common since the 2007 drought, when homeowners sharply curtailed how much water they use, especially to water their lawns. That has meant less revenue for the city.

While revenue was falling, Charlotte Water said its capital needs have increased as pipes and other infrastructure have aged. Some of the city’s recent projects include improving the McAlpine Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant ($5.9 million) and building a new sewer line along McAlpine Creek.

Charlotte Water says its customers pay less than residents in Durham, Raleigh and Concord, though Greensboro and Rock Hill have smaller water and sewer bills.

In its budget presentation Wednesday, the city said $1 can buy about 270 gallons of water.

There are no proposed stormwater fee increases for the upcoming year.

Steve Harrison: 704-358-5160, @Sharrison_Obs