CLOVERDALE --Town Hall was filled with concerned residents Tuesday night for a special Town Council meeting regarding proposed water rate hikes.
Town Council president Don Sublett opened the meeting by stating, "Your electric bill has not stayed the same over a 12-year period."
His point was it has been a while since Cloverdale has changed its water rates and it is "about time we act."
Beginning April 1, customers will see an additional $4.21 on their bill. An average customer who uses 5,000 gallons of water will pay approximately $33.78 instead of $29.57 for the April bill. Households that use 2,000 gallons of water per month will pay an extra $1.73 for a total monthly bill of $13.91.
An increase of 3 percent will continue through four more phases. The breakdown looks like this:
* Phase II (Jan. 1, 2010) -- 2,000 gallons, $14.33; 5,000 gallons, $34.80
* Phase III (Jan. 1, 2011) -- 2,000 gallons, $14.76; 5,00 gallons, $35.85
* Phase IV (Jan. 1, 2012) -- 2,000 gallons, $15.20; 5,000 gallons, $36.92
* Phase V (Jan. 1, 2013) -- 2,000 gallons, $15.66; 5,000 gallons, $38.04
This means by 2013, customers will be paying an extra $8.47 per month for 5,000 gallons of water each month.
A rate study was completed by O.W. Krohn and Associates in Westfield and based upon that study, it was found 70 percent of Cloverdale water customers use 5,000 gallons of water or less.
The main reason for increasing the rates is simple -- soft water. Cloverdale is one of a few towns that supply soft water to its customers. Chemicals to provide soft water are the number one cause for driving up the cost -- 10 percent significance.
Last year, council made the decision to cut back on the soft water chemical in an effort to save some money.
"We are fighting chemical costs," council member Dennis Padgett told the crowd.
However, not providing soft water to its customers would have a huge impact. It would mean residents would have to pay for outside water softeners and filtration systems.
Town council approved Ordinance No. 2009-2, which establishes rates and charges for services rendered by the waterworks. There was an approved amendment made to change the increase start date from March 1 to April 1.
During the meeting, council was questioned about selling the water company. The members unanimously said, no, it was not for sale.
Even though there are three suitors interested, council is not interested. Should the company be sold, council would no longer have control of its rates and charges.
"We can't sell it and have rates any cheaper," said council member Terry Puffer. "It would give a false economy."
Attorney Allen Yackey said the council is sitting on a potential "goldmine" and should manage it well.