By Tina Tidmore
Along with a history lesson on human waste disposal and sewers in Jefferson County, Jefferson County Commissioner Joe Knight told Trussville Area Chamber of Commerce members they will soon see changes on their sewer bill.
A handout offered to those who attended the luncheon on Nov. 15 states, “For most residential customers, those increases will be less than $2 a month.”
This amount includes restructuring the rating to be gradually increasing according to the amount of water used, which increases the amount going into the sewers, and a new “base charge” set according to the size of the water meter.
From the amount of water going into the house, the 15 percent credit will remain. The assumption is that 15 percent of the water going into the house does not go back into the sewer. Thus, the sewer volume figure is 85% of the water volume going into the house.
According to a chart in the handout, the amount of increase on the sewer bill will be higher on those who use very little water and those who use a lot of water. Those whose use is in the middle range will see very little increase in their monthly bill.
Those who use very little water will see a monthly increase as high as $7. Those in the middle of water use will see an increase of less than $1. As usage increases from the middle range, the amount of the monthly bill increase will also go up gradually to about $6, according to the handout chart.
“Base charge corrects for ‘free riders’ not charged costs to make service available,” Knight’s handout states. It says that utilities commonly charge a base charge.
Septic tank users will not be charged a “non-user fee,” which had received much controversy when first proposed by previous county commissioners. However, the septic tank haulers who dump their collected waste into the sewer will see a $30 increase per 1,000 gallons, the common volume one residential septic tank holds.
Knight said this is a “user fee” because even though the waste is coming from septic tanks, the trucks that have the waste after pumping it out use Jefferson County sewers for dumping. Some of these companies bring their waste to Jefferson County’s sewers for dumping because the cost is lower than what is found in other areas close by. The companies can choose where they dump.
Non-residential sewer customers will see an increase in their rates. They will also pay a base charge according to the size of their meter. And, industrial customers will see their rates “increase to market cost of the service,” the handout says
. “Industrial waste and septic changes end past practice of insulating from cost increase.”
The handout says industrial customers and septic haulers have not seen a rate increase for using Jefferson County sewers since 1991.
All these rate changes are expected to provide a 5.9 percent overall revenue increase for the sewer system.
The increases are expected to take effect in March 2013, five years since the last Jefferson County sewer rate increase.