Excerpt from today’s Times Dispatch:
On an annual basis, Richmond’s minimum charge for water really puts a dent in the budget of a low-income resident. While in Norfolk the minimum annual cost per consumer for water/sewer service is only $12, in Henrico annually it is $195.24, and in Richmond annually it is a whopping $564.36!
This is a conservation issue: There is little incentive to conserve water in Richmond because the city finances the lion’s share of its water works through the minimum service charge. The cost per CCF of water is kept artificially low so you don’t feel much of a pinch when you use more water. It would encourage conservation if Richmond slashed the minimum service charge while raising the cost for each CCF of the resource.
This is a social justice issue: Richmond’s outrageous minimum water/sewer service charge shifts the burden of financing the city’s water supply disproportionally onto those who use the least water, and often unto those who can least afford it. For a senior citizen on fixed income, the water bill will often be the largest bill of the month, even if minimal water is used. It is unjust to require low-income residents of Richmond to pay a whopping $564.36 in minimum service fees annually just to be connected to the water supply. Water is a necessity that no one can do without.
Here is a revenue-neutral proposal. Let’s revamp Richmond’s water rates by lowering the minimum monthly charge for water and sewer service to $15 per month, while raising the cost per CCF of water in line with the neighboring counties. As sure as the spring showers, the summer droughts will follow. Richmond should have a price structure in place that encourages conservation of this important resource while giving those on fixed income a fair deal.
(Sorry if you are tired of editorials on this site this week. I did not have any control on when the TD piece would come out.)