- Published on Wednesday, 02 July 2014 13:01
- Written by Super User
By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
CAROLINA BEACH - According to Carolina Beach Town Manager Michael Cramer, a long time discount given to senior citizens to lower their sewer bills is being eliminated.
On June 27th, Cramer explained in a weekly update to Council that, "In the year 2000, the Town Council voted to discount sewer services for senior citizen residents that applied and qualified for the State of North Carolina Property Tax Relief Exclusion (Homestead Exemption) under" North Carolina General Statute 105-277.1.
Cramer explained, "Per the NC School of Government, it has been determined that municipalities may not discount utility rates based solely on the status of a customer or customer class. Because the sewer discount is offered only to a certain demographic age group, it is prohibited. Therefore, the Town of Carolina Beach will discontinue the discount effective July 1, 2014."
A letter is being sent to affected customers explaining the elimination of the discount.
The change affects 14 individuals.
In the letter it states, "When and why did the discount on your utility bill begin? In the year 2000, the Town Council voted to exclude $12.00 on the monthly sewer bills for all of Town of Carolina Beach residents that qualify for the State of North Carolina Property Tax Relief Exclusion under General Statute 105.277.1. This exclusion must be reviewed annually during budget review."
The letter states, "The NC School of Government states this is perhaps the most frequently asked question, and it comes up in a variety of contexts. Some local governments wish to provide discounted utility services (particularly water, wastewater, and solid waste) to certain targeted populations, such as low income customers, senior citizens, and veterans. Other units seek to charge lower rates to religious, educational or other non-profit entities. Still others hope to use discounted utility rates as among their economic development incentives to attract new industries. Whatever the reason for wanting to provide the utility rate discounts, the answer is always the same - a local unit may not discount its utility rates based solely on the status of a customer or customer class."
The letter states, "Unfortunately, we will no longer be available to provide the Homestead discount to your utility rates. Since this discount is designated to a certain demographic age group, we have found this to be prohibited. The discount will no longer be credit to your account as of July 1, 2014."
Earlier this month the Council adopted a budget for the 2014-2015 fiscal year which started July 1st. That budget included a 5% increase on water and sewer rates.
Previously the average residential meter access fee is $13.18 for water and $23.82 for sewer for the first 3,000 gallons of use per month. The fee per 1,000 gallons of water and 1,000 gallons of sewer above the first 3,000 is $10 per month.
With the increase, the monthly bill for the first 3,000 gallons of water for a home with a 5/8" or 3/4" inch meter will be $13.84. For sewer, the rate will be $25.01 for a total of $38.85 a month.
Previously the charge for each additional 1,000 gallons above the first 3,000 gallons of water and sewer use per month was $3.70 for water and $6.30 for sewer. Starting July 1st, those variable rates go up to $3.89 for water and $6.62 for sewer.