There is a water rate protest planned for this coming Monday outside City Hall before the formal City Council meeting. The All the Saints Theater troop, the same group that organizes the Halloween Parade in Oregon Hill, is planning to attend with puppets and posters.
From the Facebook Event page:
This is an important demonstration to be held at Richmond City Hall at 5:00 p.m on Monday Sept. 24th to protest the city of Richmond’s outrageous minimum water/sewer service charge of $49.40, which is the highest in the nation. This is a real burden for every social security grandma and other low income residents to have to pay $592 annually just to be connected to the water supply. The city utility raises over $30 million annually from this residential water/sewer service charge, and almost half of this, $12 million is, paid directly into the city’s general fund. This is the most regressive means possible to raise general funds for the city– putting an outrageous service charge on the most basic necessity — water. Furthermore, Richmond’s water rate does not promote conservation because the city utility gets more than half of its revenue from the minimum service charge instead of the volume charge.
This protest is part of campaign that has seen over 1300 people sign an online petition that demands the City adopt the rate schedule used by Henrico County, which buys water from Richmond’s water utility.
From the petition:
Henrico’s water/sewer rates are equitable and promote conservation. Henrico’s minimum monthly water/sewer service charge is about a third of Richmond’s. To encourage conservation, Henrico offers a volume use discount for customers who use 6 ccf or less of water, while customers using over 6 ccf pay a premium water/sewer volume rate. Richmond can receive the same total revenue from its water works by slashing the minimum monthly service charge, eliminating the high volume discount, and charging a premium for customers using over 6 ccf of water/sewer.
The City of Richmond has a long-term financial incentive to adopt Henrico’s rate schedule. By giving customers genuine incentives to conserve water, Richmond will reduce the need for future treatment facilities and reduce pollutants downstream.
Neighbor Charles Pool is scheduled to speak on the water rate issue during the Citizen Comment period at the City Council meeting. The campaign to reform the CIty’s water rates goes back at least five years.