As we continue to explore a potential utility sale with these ongoing informational messages, for those of you who have hung in there, making it through the first three messages and now tackling a fourth; what can I say, you’ve definitely earned your engaged citizen gold star – thank you! With the last three messages providing the rationale for considering this, the environment utilities operate in, and where we are in the process; this message can start focusing in on some more of the specifics.
For example, some are curious about the criteria used by our consultant when comparing a status quo option (the Town retaining the utilities), and the sale of these systems to a professional utility company.
This matrix will be presented during the upcoming Townhall meetings, and the public can ask questions about it then. But we wanted to show in advance the types of things being considered as part of our due diligence.
Another responsibility of our consultant was to compare the expected rates for the two scenarios mentioned above. Since variables become greater over time, we really couldn’t expect to have accurate projections beyond a nominal ten-year forecast. So if you click here, you can see what we might expect rates to do over the next ten years.
We’ve also heard a lot of questions about whether this sale could improve our water quality. While our water meets all regulatory requirements and is perfectly safe to drink, we’ve heard from many of you that the taste, clarity, and hardness of our water is less than ideal. Addressing these issues have proven challenging for the Town. Though as part of their proposal, Virginia American Water (VAW) put together a plan to evaluate and address these issues, should the sale go through.
To see the VAW plan, please click here.
As many of you know, over the years, whenever a new connection to the water/wastewater system was made, the Town collected a hook-up fee. These fees have been saved in a separate account for future upgrades or expansions to the facilities. There is not currently sufficient funding here to cover all expected future costs, but they could help defray some of them should the Town keep the systems. A question we’re now getting is, what happens to this hook-up money if the utilities are sold. The short answer is that those funds would most likely be retained by the Town and used for other municipal purposes as determined by the Town Council at some future date.
One might think that by not dedicating the hook-up fee revenue to future facility costs, that when other capital is brought to bear, utility rates would go up. But please refer to the rate projection above to see that even with the private cost of capital, rates are still projected to go down. This would be one of the benefits of being part of a much larger network. Please note that the upcoming Town Hall meetings scheduled for February 16 & 19, will cover the same information.
We are only holding two meetings to better accommodate the public’s availability. If for any reason you are unable to attend either of these meetings, you may still submit your questions by emailing them to the Town Clerk at firstname.lastname@example.org or by dropping them off at Town Hall.
All questions must be received no later than one hour before the meeting start times. Also, while these meetings will be carried on Facebook, please understand that this does not constitute a virtual meeting. Therefore, no comments will be accepted as part of the Facebook feed.
Additionally, the Civic Center does not have the audio equipment to adequately pick up all conversations that might occur as part of the informal Town Hall meeting style. Therefore, in-person attendance is recommended.