The increase was unanimously recommended by the Water and Sewerage Authority after a number of public meetings and hearing. The rate increase was approved June 9. The base rate for non-residential customers also would be set at 2.5 times the current rate, with the fees varying according to meter size.
Rockdale Water Resources reasons for the increase included:
• The current water and sewer rates do not generate enough annual revenue to meet operating expenses, plus the utility's annual debt service payments.
• Much of the infrastructure is in such poor condition that 34 percent of all water produced is lost to leaks or is otherwise unaccounted for. This is more than twice the acceptable norms.
• RWR is carrying more than $100 million in debt, but has unrestricted cash reserves of less than $500,000 and emergency back-up funds of less than half a year's operating revenues.
The plan to restore RWR to a fully viable utility includes the following, according to Wicks:
1. Adopt sound financial policies for revenue and expenditure management. Eliminate the dependency upon Capital Cost Recovery and Reserve Fund revenue for operations.
2. Adopt measures to immediately cover all O&M expenditures and capital replacements requirements.
3. Reduce operations costs through efficiency improvements.
4. Develop an accountability initiative by which to measure, report and communicate results.
5. Develop a communications initiative to communicate progress and solicit feedback.