Sussex Borough presents water rate changes
Officials want water, sewer to pay for themselves
SUSSEX BOROUGH — About 100 residents packed the Sussex Fire House as the Sussex Borough Council presented proposed changes to the borough's water and sewer rates on April 16.
No action was taken at the meeting as Mayor Jonathanrose said the council only was looking input on proposed changes, which are intended to to rebalance the cost of the water and sewer systems.
Currently, it costs more than $2 million to produce water in the Sussex Borough water plant and send water and sewage down the sewer line.
The proposed rate change will go into effect either July 1 or Oct. 1.
The proposed rates will use Equivalent Dwelling Units as the minimum fixed charge and a proposed per gallon charged for every gallon of water used. The EDU is equivalent to a single family house with a water meter. The borough’s calculation is based on a statewide basic formula, with some local modifications.
Borough The majority of single family home owners should find some relief.
The basic single family home is billed $420 per quarter, the same as a three-family home or 50-unit apartment.
The borough's utility costs are high because the infrastructure is old and pipes, valves and water meters need to be replaced. Some pipes from the 1920s are still in place. The borough also has few users: 701 for water and 577 for sewer.
The 577 sewer users help pay for the 701 water users because water charges do not cover expenses, and borough officials want water and sewer to be self-sufficient.
During three question and answer periods, residents learned Sussex rates are different than Hamburg and Franklin because the borough uses a reservoir and plant. Other towns use wells which are cheaper, but not as stable because of the possibility of running dry.
Some residents said they were single residents with three bedrooms and the EDU system was not fair and even discriminatory where they have to pay for what they have not used.
Rose said the EDU calculation is based on two-bedroom occupants in the first bedroom and the one occupant for subsequent bedrooms.
Several residents said the past could not be changed, and they were thankful for the progress being made.
The borough started looking to increase future water and sewer users about two years ago in order to help stabilize rates.
Possible new users could be from the commercial development along Route 23 South of Sussex and some future proposed housing developments outside of borough lines.
Some residents asked for a way to appeal. Others wondered what would happen to the rates if people conserve water. Still others suggested lowering the cost of the $2 million operation and looking at a well system.
Rose explained that the bond based contract with Sussex County Municipal Utilities Association was negotiated in the early 1990s with no end date.
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