Chapel Hill sewer bills to increase

Thursday, September 14, 2017
Chapel Hill Mayor Danny Bingham welcomes Chris Lowe to town government after the Board of Aldermen unanimously voted to hire Lowe as the town’s new recorder and treasurer at Monday’s monthly meeting.
Tribune photo by Scott Pearson

Rate payers in Chapel Hill will see their sewer bills increasing over the next three years.

The Chapel Hill Board of Aldermen approved a monthly increase on sewer rates of $5 per month per year for each of the next three years. The total increase being $15 per month at the end of that period.

The rate increase has been dictated by the State Revolving Fund, which provides low-interest loans for utility projects in the state.

The town plans to run an eight inch sewer line from the Morningside station around the western side of Chapel Hill to the wastewater treatment plant.

Total cost of the installation of the 14,400 foot line is estimated to cost $1.15 million.

The town was awarded a Community Development Block Grant in October of 2016, which will cover roughly $362,000 of the total cost.

The remaining $788,000 will be funded through the SRF.

Prior to loaning money, the SRF conducts a rate study of the utility to verify sufficient cash flow in order to service that debt.

SRF, based on that study, will require a rate increase as a condition of providing the funds.

The low interest rates and the possibility of up to 10 percent principal forgiveness makes the SRF the cheapest source of funds for projects like this, despite their requirements.

Lewisburg Water and Wastewater was also told this year by the SRF that a rate increase was required before funding for two projects would be approved.

Greg Davenport, representing the town’s engineering consultant, told aldermen that the dedicated eight inch line would greatly improve capacity for the town’s sewage system.

Currently, waste runs from Morningside to the south through a six inch line, which, over the years, has had additional taps added, overloading the line’s capacity and causing issues with waste backups.

The dedicated eight inch line will remove waste from north of the Morningside station from the six inch line, which should fix the capacity issue.

Easements and environmental studies for the project have already been completed and Davenport hopes to have the funding approved within 30 to 45 days, so that the project can be bid in December for a March, 2018, start.

“I hate rate increases worse than anybody but if we are going to have to have it and going to need it, I make the motion that we pass it,” said Alderman Horace Hill.

The vote to approve the increase was unanimous.

Town residents will be receiving new, large wheeled trash cans from the town as well.

One bid was received for the carts and the town will purchase 700 of the 96-gallon carts and 100 of a smaller size.

Overall cost for the carts will be $45, 343. The carts are intended to reduce the amount of garbage on the ground on trash pickup days.

The carts should be available in eight weeks and will be distributed to residents.

Aldermen revisited the parking situation at Depot Park.

Alderman Mike Faulkenberry had expressed concerns at the last meeting about tractor-trailers and other heavy vehicles parking on the new lot and damaging it.

Concerns over loitering in the lot at night were also expressed.

After discussion, aldermen approved on first reading an ordinance prohibiting parking in the lot between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. and prohibiting overweight vehicles from the lot at all hours.

Aldermen voted unanimously to hire Chris Lowe as the new town recorder and treasurer. He replaces Jack King who moved into the private sector.

Lowe’s start date is Sept. 27.