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HCSA mulls rate hike with plant expansion

SoVaNow.com / August 23, 2010
The Halifax County Service Authority (HSCA) is considering the size of a rate increase that must go into effect by January 2011 in order for the authority to meet the requirements of USDA Rural Development financing for improvements to the local wastewater treatment plant.

Halifax County recently received $15.4 million in federal stimulus funding for the expansion and renovation of the Maple Avenue wastewater treatment plant, doubling capacity at the outdated facility.

Willie Jones, Executive Director of the HCSA, pointed out to board members that the wastewater plant is required to shoulder operating costs and debt service without outside funding streams. “Stated simply, Rural Development does not permit a water system to supplement a sewer system and vice-versa,” said Jones.

HCSA member Stuart Nelson projected the new rates would mean an average increase of $7 to $8 per month on customers’ water and sewer bills. The new rates will be advertised for public comment in late November before becoming effective in January 2011.

The proposed rate structure offers a slight reduction in water rates for out-of-town South Boston users as well as for Halifax uses of more than 7,000 gallons bi-monthly. Jones explained that overall, the current shortfall in sewer charges amounts to about 91 cents per 1,000 gallons.

In other business at the HCSA meeting Thursday, Jones reported that design work for improvements to the Maple Avenue wastewater plant is underway, with Dewberry doing the work. Jones added that preliminary engineering is also underway for the Banister Shores project where about 20 homeowners have signed up for hook-ups to the Authority’s water system.

Jones said the location of utilities along Route 501 and across the Banister River is taking a little longer than earlier projected.

The director also reported that the plan for meter replacements for customers in the Town of Halifax has been submitted to the Health Department in the hope that the job can be advertised late this month or in early September. He said he hoped to be able to install the new meters in November or December.

The Authority authorized Jones and Chairman Doug Bowman to sign all documents related to securing funds from Rural Development for other projects, such as improvements to the Authority’s back wash system and the conversion of the Halifax Cowford Road plant to a pump station.

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