WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- You might want to think twice before letting the water run. The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority is raising rates.
The authority held its first of two work sessions in downtown Wilmington Wednesday night to discuss the best way to hike up those rates.
Customers are not happy about the increases, but only two people came out to discuss their thoughts and concerns to the board.
With a nearly $6 million debt, aging infrastructure and a growing community the CFPUA's rates are going up.
"If our taxes were going up and New Hanover County Commissioners said our taxes are going up 15 percent people would be beating the doors down complaining about it, and this affects our pocketbook in the same way," said Chad O'Shields, who lives in New Hanover County and runs a blog critical of the CFPUA. "They're going to go up this year. They will go up next year and they got to keep going up to cover this debt."
One resident says the upcoming rate increase is a result of poor budget planning. Currently the CFPUA rates are based on a tier system. Some customers with large families say it's unfair, because the authority uses higher rates if you use more water in an effort to get people to conserve water.
"The question is do we just do across the board with everybody gets the same percentage rate adjustment or do we change the structure where we still generate the same revenues but some customers get a higher adjustment than other customers do?" said Daryll Parker, who made Wednesday night's presentation and is with the Utility Advisors' Network.
The board discussed four different rate options at the workshop with rate increases ranging anywhere from 15 percent to 33 percent. Many customers say they want a uniform rate structure that gives every customer a flat rate regardless of how much you use, but experts say that's not necessarily the best option.
"If you make that structural change now, just that structure change itself will push the revenue burden onto the lower use and middle use customers," Parker said.
The average customer in our area uses 9,000 gallons of water every two months and ends up with a total bill of a around $100. The board may not choose to change its structure at all, but bottom line is customers will have to get used to a higher bill very soon.
The CFPUA says its current rate structure is consistent with industry standards.
The board's second work session is scheduled for March 9 at 6 p.m.