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Halifax County Service Authority: Rate Hikes Coming

It looks like rate increases are coming down the pipeline as the Halifax County Service Authority board members reviewed the draft budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year during the monthly meeting Thursday. The draft budget has the authority taking in $4,058,280 in revenue during the new fiscal year and spending $4,074,607.

Executive Director Willie Jones told the board, “We’ll have to raise rates,” after a review of the budget.  He also said that over the next week or so staff would finish compiling capital expenses for the next year.

Board Chairman Doug Bowman said the rate changes will be reviewed in the near

future with the intention of new rates taking effect on Jan. 1, 2011, like the last increase took effect on the first of the year in 2010.

Jones updated the board on several ongoing projects.  The new waterline project on Canterbury Drive in Halifax is slated for completion around the end of this month, three tanks were repaired, and the water intake in the Dan River was grandfathered in by DEQ, Jones said.

At the close of the meeting, outgoing board member Rick Harrell, whose term expires at the end of June, passed out a letter to his fellow board members and staff and expressed his appreciation for the efforts of the board and staff to get the authority up and running.

“Each of you has taken your responsibility seriously and has made a continuing attempt to improve the lives of our local citizens,” he wrote.  “While this authority had a number of obstacles to overcome in its initial period, I do believe that we are laying the groundwork for a necessary and successful service for Halifax County.”

Harrell noted the challenges facing the authority.

“We operate under some assumptions and limitations that were not present when water and sewer services were provided by local municipalities,” Harrell wrote.  “Our source of funding is essentially the charges that we make for water and sewer.

“If we provide a discount to some citizens, we must make up the shortfall with others,” he explained.  “If we do not charge for some services, we must charge more for others.

“Your job is to apportion the charges as fairly as possible while continuing to make improvements in the system to reduce the escalation of charges in the future.”

Harrell urged board members to resist the “inevitable onslaught” of requests for exceptions and givebacks for special interests.

He urged the board to leave the job of economic development to the board of supervisors.

“Paying for development is not your responsibility,” he wrote.  “This is the job of the board of supervisors who can spread that cost among all the citizens of the county.”

Harrell also offered praise for his successor on the board, Stewart Nelson.  Harrell called him an “excellent addition” and said he holds him in the highest regard.