Berger, Thompson tussle over water rate hikes

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - In voicing opposition to the New Hanover County Board of Commissioner's discussion about helping people pay overdue water bills to the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority, Commissioner Brian Berger said citizens would be better served by keeping rate increases in check.

"We as a board maybe need to exert a little more influence on the utility authority to curtail some of these annual double digit rate increases," Commissioner Brian Berger said in Monday's commission meeting.  "Do what we can do to keep the rates down so we're not putting as many people in the category where they need assistance."

Commissioner Jason Thompson, who recently replaced Berger on the CFPUA Board, pointed out that Berger had that chance as a member on that board last year.

"I will remind you the current rate structure that was adopted last year you voted to approve," Commissioner Jason Thompson responded.

Berger disagreed.  He pointed out that he was the lone vote against a rate increase in a discussion held at the CFPUA meeting on April 13th last year.  Minutes from that meeting show board members voted 10-1 with Berger dissenting on an ordinance for rates to produce a 13.1 increase.

However, later in that meeting, board members voted on a new usage tier structure.  CFPUA CEO Matt Jordan informed members that with a new tier structure, costs would increase.  Berger joined the majority in adopting that new tier structure.  The motion passed 9-2.

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