Berryville council raises water rates outside city limits

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

By Scott Loftis

Berryville water users who live outside the city limits will soon be paying a little more each month, but mayor Tim McKinney says they’ll still be getting “some of the cheapest rural water in the world.”

The Berryville City Council voted unanimously at its regular meeting on Tuesday to approve a new monthly water rate schedule.

The changes, which affect only users outside the city limits, will increase the minimum charge for the first 2,000 gallons per month to $22.00, an $8.40 increase from the previous minimum charge of $13.60.

Tiered rates for users who exceed 2,000 gallons remain unchanged, but all users outside the city limits will pay the increased minimum charge.

McKinney explained that the new rates are necessary as part of the city’s rural water expansion project.

The project will add approximately 41 miles of water line outside the city limits to accommodate for future growth and to serve residents who previously relied on wells or other independent water sources. More than 300 users have signed up for the new service.

Most of the $9.8 million project is being financed through grants, with $1,681,000 paid for through a loan agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

At Tuesday’s meeting, McKinney explained that the rate increase was necessary as part of the loan agreement.

“They require us to give them rates so that the new area we’re serving will service that debt,” he said. “We were lucky. Some of these other rural projects are so small that you end up with these $40 and $50 minimum bills just to pay the loan part of the project. Ours is big enough, by having so many numbers, it brought that number down.”

The council voted to suspend the rules and read the ordinance three times at Tuesday’s meeting, giving it final approval after the third reading.

McKinney said the project is around 70 percent complete, although he said he has not signed off on payment.

“I did not sign the pay request on Friday,” McKinney said. “I’m not happy with the cleanup and I told ’em I wasn’t going to sign until I am. I’m very happy with the work. They’re working hard, they’re doing a good job, but I told them at the preconstruction meeting that cleanup is going to be a priority, and keeping people happy. I just don’t feel like they’ve done it, so the pay request is still laying in there on my desk. … Again, I want to say they’ve really worked hard and done a good job but they’ve just got a little behind on the cleanup. I want people to be happy. If they’re going to let us put a water line on their property, we need to treat ’em right.”

In other business at Tuesday’s meeting, the council unanimously approved a request from the Greater Berryville Area Chamber of Commerce to present concerts on the Berryville Square on the nights of Aug. 30 and Sept. 27, in conjunction with the Carroll County Cruisers’ monthly classic car show. Chamber director Steve Johnson told the council that a similar event on July 26 was very popular, drawing more than 200 people.

The council also unanimously approved a permit application for the Carroll County Fair Parade.

The council voted to table a decision on bids to replace a heating and air conditioning unit at the Berryville Community Center to resolve a discrepancy involving the scope of the work.

The council’s next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 20, at City Hall.

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