Board of Commissioners hears from financial consultants on water rate hike

Water rates may increase for customers in Brunswick County

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Some neighbors may need to plan on an increase to their monthly bills as their water rate could increase.

The past year has proven difficult for some families and businesses to pay bills — and it could be an even bigger problem starting next year in Brunswick County.

“This would definitely be an across the board rate change for our water customers, our wholesale customers and industry customers so that we can pay for the county’s ongoing improvements,” said Chairman Randy Thompson.

The Board of Commissioners met with financial consultants today to learn what a rate increase for water would mean for county residents.

For the most part, it would cost $9 more per month for customers. That’s around $100 more a year — a hefty number for those already struggling to make ends meet. After 16 years at the same rate, the big question is, why now?

“All we’re doing is trying to pay for the cost of the improvements that we approved long ago.”

Thompson points to the county’s exploding population growth and cleaning up contamination problems from Chemours as key components to the rate hike. However, those increases could come back down over time.

“If the projections for growth provide us with the additional revenue that comes in, we would be able to adjust those rates.”

Even if the higher rate is approved, Thompson says it may go back down if an ongoing lawsuit results in a settlement from Chemours.

The final decision is still up in the air as the commissioners consider a number of factors, including how this might affect small business owners.

“What we want to make sure is that the small businesses that are going through a recovery themselves, that we try to lessen the impact on them as well. If changing our billing structure does that, then that might be something that might be recommended.”

The final vote would be made July 1, but the higher rate wouldn’t go into effect until January 2022.

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