Water Rate Hike Could Hit Blythewood

BLYTHEWOOD (May 5, 2016) – A proposed increase in Columbia water and sewer rates could impact as many as 800 residential and commercial customers in the Blythewood area.

Columbia City Council is currently considering a 4.3 percent increase in rates, which would take effect July 1. The rate hike could add between $2.26 and $12.77 to monthly bills of Blythewood customers. Although Blythewood is served by the Town of Winnsboro, the water passing through Winnsboro’s meters in Blythewood is purchased by Winnsboro from Columbia.

“Whatever cost we incur (from Columbia) would have to be passed on to Blythewood customers,” Lorraine Abel, Winnsboro’s Assistant Town Manager, said Tuesday.

But with the first vote on the proposed budget, which includes the rate increases, not scheduled until June 7, Abel added that it was too early to say specifically what those costs would be. Two votes are needed to pass the budget.

If the 4.3 percent increase is approved, residential water customers outside Columbia’s city limits would pay an average of $3.80 more per month, or a little more than $93 per monthly.

Commercial customers outside Columbia’s city limits would see an increase of $12.77 per month, which would send their monthly bill to just over $313.

Customers inside the city limits would feel somewhat less pain, with residential customers paying an average of $2.26 more per month and commercial customers paying an average of $7.49 more per month. The average residential bill inside the city limits would increase to about $54.75 per month, while the average commercial bill would be about $184 per month.

The 4.3 percent increase could generate more than $5 million in additional revenue for the City, all of which would go toward improvements to the water and sewer systems. The additional revenue would also reduce the amount the City will have to borrow in order to invest a planned $140 million into upkeep of and upgrades to the systems.

City Council will meet again on May 10 to discuss the proposed rate increases. A public hearing is slated for June 7, prior to the first vote on the budget.