WARWICK, R.I. — Mayor Scott Avedisian has rejected the Kent County Water Authority’s proposed rate hikes of 10.9 to 14.6 percent on water users and 30 percent on the city’s fire hydrants, intended, in part, to raise $6.6 million over three years for new water meters, suggesting a merge of the authority with another water utility.
Timothy Brown, KCWA’s general manager, said most of the increase would pay for new water meters for all the KCWA’s residential customers. According to Avedisian’s office, the draft agreement, which Warwick has rejected, notes Water Authority expenses will increase by more than 14 percent beginning on Jan. 1, 2017.
The impact of the increase on a quarterly bill with an average consumption of 20 HCF (equal to a little more than 748 gallons) would be an increase of $14.61 per quarter, or 12.7 percent, according to the draft agreement.
“Based on my staffs’ review of the draft settlement agreement, I have concluded that the proposed expense increases and associated rate increases are unacceptable and will advocate they be rejected by the PUC. While expenses must necessarily increase from year-to-year, the amount of expense and revenue increases in the short period of time contained in the draft settlement agreement constitutes unacceptable public agency budgeting and, in my opinion, poor public policy,” Avedisian said in a release that included a copy of the draft agreement.
“The City of Warwick has intervened in the PUC Application. On behalf of the many customers of the KCWA in the City of Warwick, I intend to oppose this rate plan application as proposed and set forth in the draft settlement agreement. I find the terms and conditions of the draft settlement agreement unfair and unreasonable. The persons and businesses located in Warwick and served by the KCWA would have to absorb these rate increases in too short a period of time. In addition, the City will need to absorb an un-budgeted 30 percent rate increase in fire hydrant costs.”
Avedisian said he’ll talk with Kent County legislators about merging Kent County Water Authority with another water utility.
“These kinds of increases require a look at the totality of the authority’s scope of service,” Avedisian said.
On Wednesday, Brown said he had not seen Avedisian’s statement on the increase, and would not comment on it. He said hearing on the increase had been finished that day, and a decision on the increase proposal is due Dec. 20.
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