By Stephen Hawboldt
The Town of Annapolis Royal is seeking to intervene in the Utility Review Board (URB) hearing on the water rate increases being sought by Annapolis County. The town, which purchases water from the county, could face upwards of a 300 per cent jump in wholesale water rates if the county’s proposed rate structure is granted.
The town is contending that the 1998 agreement with the county has never been terminated and that changes in the terms and conditions can be made only by “express agreement.” The agreement provides for dispute resolution by arbitration, according to the submission made to the URB by the town.
The rate review study undertaken for the county reported that water is sold to the town at a fixed price regardless of consumption. It was estimated that the current rate of $1.06 per 1,000 gallons only covers about one third of the actual cost to the county of providing this water.
If the rate increase is granted, the wholesale rate the town pays will rise to $3.07 in the first year of three years. Subsequent increases will be only two or three per cent per year.
It is not known if this jump in the wholesale price of water will trigger a rate increase for customers of the town utility. Currently, residential customers of the town utility pay $4.09 per 1,000 gallons. These customers include county residents in both Granville Ferry and Lequille. County residents directly served by the county utility will pay $4.90 per 1,000 gallons in the first year, if the rate increase is granted.
A Utility Review Board hearing into proposed rate changes by the Annapolis County Water Utility will be held April 4 at 11 a.m. at the Annapolis Royal Fire Hall. The hearing is open to anyone.