During a final budget workshop May 5, Wrightsville Beach staff and leaders agreed that a water and sewer rate increase is necessary to balance the 2016-17 budget.
Residents will be able to weigh in on the rate increase and other budget items during a public hearing in June, when the board is scheduled to approve the budget. The proposed rate increase means residents would pay $10 more each month for water and sewer services.
That particular increase was chosen because town staff said it was comparable to rates paid by Cape Fear Public Utility Authority customers.
Staff and leaders said the increase is necessary to help fund several expensive upgrades to the town’s aging water and sewer system this year. Without a rate increase, town manager Tim Owens said, the town would either have to cut many of the projects or borrow from its reserve funds.
“No one wants to propose a rate increase,” he said, but alderwoman Lisa Weeks pointed out that it’s hard to make an argument against one.
“This should have been done a long time ago,” Mayor Bill Blair added.
With the increase, Wrightsville Beach can complete projects such as installing new automated water meters and upgrading sewage lift stations that don’t perform well during busy times. The town is also having its water and sewer system assessed to help determine its future, but Owens said he hoped to receive a grant for that project.