Goochland board punts water rate hike

East Goochland residents are not excited about paying more for utilities.

At the September 1 board of supervisors meeting, 14 citizens expressed concern with the proposed 13 percent rate increase in the Tuckahoe Creek Service District and the five percent increase in the general county utility system.

Before the public hearing, supervisors held a work session to discuss the proposed rate increase and decided to defer the vote.

“I’m not going to support anything until we correct this imbalance,” said Jim Eads, District 5 supervisor.

Eads said that he wanted the county to set rates that “represent a recouping of the money we’ve paid out of the general fund over the years for water and sewer capacity here at the Courthouse.”

Rudy Butler, District 4 supervisor, said that he wanted to make connection fees the same in each service district, which was not part of the proposed rate increase.

Supervisors unanimously deferred, deciding to gather more public input to create a plan that better represented the public’s interest.

Arthur Myers of Lower Tuckahoe told the board that in 1971 the residents of his subdivision paid for water lines connecting them to municipal water.

“We paid our way, now you want us to pay for Tuckahoe Creek Service District,” Myers said at the meeting.

Scott Gaeser, a TCSD landowner, said that he has paid his own way, as Myers had.

“These rate increases don’t make sense,” Gaeser said. “It’s hard to see how people are paying different rates.”

Residents in the TCSD pay $2.95 per 1,000 gallons of water, and residents in the general county system, including Lower Tuckahoe, pay $3.33 per 1,000 gallons.

Ron Nease, a general county user in the James River Sanitary District, was curious as to why JRSD users pay more for water.

“Has Henrico or Richmond raised their rates, whatever they charge us?” Nease asked.

Butler said that rates were increased several years ago, but had not changed recently.

“I don’t think other districts should pay for mistakes made in [the TCSD],” Nease added.

Gaeser echoed many citizens’ comments as he urged the board to create plans that would attract development rather than stifling investment by raising connection fees and rates.

But general county system users were already upset at paying more for water than TCSD users, and were not willing to accept the five percent increase.

“The TCSD system was built with debt, with bonds,” Nease said. “We paid for ours out of pocket.”

County records indicate that TCSD users pay an ad valorem tax of $.23 per $100 of assessed property value to help pay the system costs until development improves.

David James told the board that he pays an ad valorem tax but receives no sewage service.

Phil Gaeser lives outside the TCSD, but his property is surrounded by TCSD users.

“I wrote a letter, trying to get into the TCSD,” Gaeser said.

Gaeser claims he was never allowed a connection, and he has since spent $16,000 to install a 650-foot well.

“I don’t think I want to be on [the TCSD] system anymore,” Gaeser said.

Originally published in The Central Virginian

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