by Julie Tisdale
City & County Policy Analyst
The Smithfield Herald is reporting today that water and sewer rates will be going up in Smithfield. The town council voted for the change because costs have been rising, and the town needs to cover those costs with user fees. North Carolina statute gives cities and counties the authority to do precisely that.
Water and sewer rates are usually comprised of two parts – a base charge just for accessing the service, and a usage charge per gallon for water actually used. For now, Smithfield is just raising those base rates, but a usage charge increase is also being considered.
After reading about Smithfield’s rate hikes, I was curious about how those charges compared with rates in other parts of the state. It turns out that the UNC Environmental Finance Center has produced an interactive tool that allows just such a comparison. The information hasn’t been updated since last spring, so it’s a little dated, but it’s still interesting. I was even able to compare the rates that I pay for water to a private company (My home doesn’t have city water, so we have a private provider.) to those provided by the municipality nearby.
Check it out. You might be surprised by what you find.