May 18, 2006
Charlottesville City Council members have proposed raising the utility rates by about five percent this year. The rate increase would impact water, sewer and gas rates for resident and business owners.
"To the average customer, that's a little over $7 extra," said City Council Member Blake Caravati.
Council members discussed the idea during Monday night's meeting. They say part of the increase is attributed to rising operational costs and high national gas prices. Some people say the rates are too high as it is, but Caravati says the increase has to do with supply and demand.
"We need to have more customers so that these increases and the cost of supplying the gas is spread over a larger customer base," explained Caravati. "For example compared to Danville, which is a town of similar size but has a large industrial base, there rates are significantly lower than ours because they can spread it out to companies that use large amounts of gas."
Last year, the rates jumped 9%. Charlottesville's rates are the second highest in Virginia and the hike is raising concerns among some community members. Caravati has been fielding angry emails from people who say they cannot afford another increase.
"The natural gas increase last year was 45%. An average 9% increase to our customers is a pretty good deal," said Caravati.
Charlottesville offers several relief programs to help people struggling to pay their bills. Still though, city council officials say that conserving may save the most money.
City council is expected to vote on the increase June 5. If it passes, it will go into effect July 1.
For more information on relief assistance for those that cannot pay their bills can call 434-970-3222.