Cape Fear Public Utility Authority approves budget with rate increase
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The fiscal year 2024 budget for the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority includes a rate increase for customers, per a CFPUA announcement from Monday.
The CFPUA Board held a public hearing and approved the budget during a meeting on Wednesday, June 14.
The budget is $112.9 million, $13.7 million more than last year’s budget.
The changes will result in an increase of $3.19 (3.6 percent) on the monthly water and sewer bill for the average residential customer. These changes will take effect on July 1.
“The rate increase is driven mainly by costs to replace CFPUA’s Southside Wastewater Treatment Plant (SSWWTP). SSWWTP was constructed more than 50 years ago, in 1972. Although it continues to meet regulations, SSWWTP is reaching the end of its useful life and must be replaced. The work will replace the existing 12 million gallons per day (MGD) treatment capacity with new infrastructure and modern treatment technology and provide an additional 4 MGD capacity for future growth for a total plant capacity of 16 MGD,” the CFPUA announcement states.
Officials say this incremental rate increase is better than a 25% or 30% increase in a single year and say the decision is meant to ease the burden on customers.
The rapid growth in New Hanover County is causing CFPUA to upgrade its capacity with new infrastructure and modern treatment technology. The overall goal is to expand the capacity of the plant by four million gallons more per day.
That needed capacity is due to the rapid growth of the community.
“Based on our most recent water and wastewater master plan, what we were looking at in terms of growth over a 10 year period, we’ve actually achieved it in the last three years. So growth is certainly something that we’re experiencing here,” said John McLean, CFPUA Chief Financial Officer.
CFPUA says that about $7.3 million in engineering work is set to begin for the project in 2023, and it estimates the cost at $239 million for construction expected to start in late 2024 or early 2025.
An upgrade to replace the 1970s Southside Wastewater Treatment Plant is the biggest capital project in the company’s history.
A separate public hearing was be held at the same meeting for System Development Charges in the next fiscal year. These one-time fees are for new customers connecting to the system and not part of water and sewer services rates. The proposed increase would be from $2,230 water and $2,160 sewer in FY 2023 to $2,270 water and $3,290 sewer in FY 2024.
You can find the full meeting agenda and budget on the CFPUA website.
Copyright 2023 WECT. All rights reserved.