Understanding Changes to Your Utility Bill
In 2019 the City hired a consulting firm to analyze the water and sewer rates. The key issues and factors that were the catalyst for the study were:
- City Purchased TCUD-II from Utilities, Inc. in 2014
- City consolidated the once separate water systems in 2016 (All water is now purchased from the Town of Fort Mill. TCUD-II was previously purchasing water from York County.)
- The sewer systems remain primarily independent (TCUD-I discharges are pumped to Rock Hill for treatment | TCUD-II discharges are treated at city-owned treatment plants)
- Rate structures remained independent
After a thorough analysis of existing utility debt, operational expenses and impending capital needs, three (3) rate alternatives were presented for consideration. Those alternatives were summarized in a workshop with Council on July 22, 2019. Council ultimately found it was in the long-term best interest of the utility system and its customers to move to a consolidated, or unified, rate structure whereby all customers pay the same utility rates. Doing so allows for the TCUD-II customers to move from a flat, monthly sewer rate to a volumetric rate. Volumetric rates are more common in the industry and fairer to the end-user. It also allows for the fixed expenses the utility system has to be captured in the fixed monthly charge (base rate) while also keeping the volumetric rate margins the same.
Realizing the impact this may have on some of the utility customers, City Council ultimately directed staff to take a phased approach to the rate changes. Beginning with the November 2019 bills (October usage) customers will see a difference in their bills. Some customers may see their bills go down while others may see a slight increase. The new rate structure ensures each customer is paying for the necessary utility improvements and operations. It also keeps the utility in a financially sound position by maintaining the required debt service coverage ratio.
Click here to view the presentation made by the consultant or listen to Council's discussion in the Rate Study Workshop. The new fee schedule was approved by Ordinance after a public hearing and 1st read on August 19, 2019, and 2nd read on September 16, 2019.