Botetourt County’s Aqua Virginia water customers will get to have their say about proposed rate increases by the company during two public hearings Tuesday, May 15 at Lord Botetourt High School.
County Attorney Michael Lockaby told the Board of Supervisors last week that the State Corporation Commission (SCC) hearing officer scheduled the hearings for Aqua Virginia customers in Botetourt, Franklin and Montgomery Counties. The hearings are at 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.
The Board of Supervisors joined with other counties that are served by the Aqua Virginia to fight a proposed water rate increase that is from 25 to 40 percent, according to Lockaby.
The supervisors asked local customers in early February to notify the SCC they wanted a public hearing in this part of the state.
The SCC had already scheduled public hearings at its Richmond office and in Fluvanna and Caroline Counties where Aqua Virginia also owns water and sewer systems.
Aqua Virginia customers in Botetourt had a rate increase a year ago and now the water/sewer company is seeking a $1.48 million increase in revenues along with imposing a new water and wastewater infrastructure service charge (WWISC) that would also affect its more than 2,300 Botetourt residential and business customers.
Besides the base water rate increase, the WWISC would allow the company to place a new surcharge on customers that would not have the same SCC oversight as water rates, and that could result in even a much greater increase in rates, Lockaby told the supervisors in December. He said the WWISC could be a rate as high as 10 percent of the base water rate.
Lockaby told the supervisors in January Aqua Virginia has two rate structures in Botetourt— both with the same base fee. The per 1,000 gallon rates vary between the two.
Board of Supervisors member Mac Scothorn worried that Aqua Virginia will apply for rate increases every two years. “We’re seeing a trend, asking for a rate increase every two years,” Scothorn said at the January board meeting.
The supervisors passed a resolution in December to use whatever authority they have to oppose the proposed water rate increase and the new WWISC infrastructure surcharge.
Lockaby said the hearing officer is essentially the judge in the case and will make the decision about a rate increase.