Council Mends Water Rates

RIDGEWAY – With citizens protesting in numbers to their representatives, the Town of Ridgeway amended its June decision to raise water rates at their July Council meeting.

With a 3-1 vote, Council members matched their supplier, the Town of Winnsboro, by raising rates to 10 cents per 1,000 gallons of water. Council members reported much contact with those they represent running up to the meeting about the proposed $1 per 1,000 gallon increase in water rates, which started out as a mistake, but some say is much needed.

“There’s no reason to raise it a dollar. It makes no sense, no rhyme or reason,” Councilman Russ Brown said. “It’s a random number because of a mistake. Increases are going to come, but increasing it by a dollar just to increase it by a dollar would be bad government. We should at least research it first.”

The $1-per-1,000 gallons increase passed final reading during Council’s June 11 meeting and was intended to coincide with what Council perceived as a 98 cents per 1,000 gallons hike by Winnsboro. However, according to a letter earlier in the year from Winnsboro, their rates increased $.098 per 1,000 gallons, not $.98.

“My recommendation is that we go up with the Winnsboro rate increase,” said Councilman Heath Cookendorfer. “I’ve had a lot of people call me on this. I’d rather go up the .098 rather than a dollar, amending the budget and correcting the mistake.”

Cookendorfer said he understood that rates will have to rise in the near future, but that doing so due to a mistake was not the way Council should do so.

“We have reluctantly raised them when we have had to,” said Councilman Doug Porter, the lone vote of dissent and Council member to advocate for an immediate rise in fees. “Most of our city revenue comes from water and sewer. And we have capital projects we need to address. I think we would have asked a little bit more than that. We are losing ground to (water supplier Winnsboro).”