Mt. Pleasant Waterworks raising rates in 2010

MOUNT PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) - Mount Pleasant Waterworks customers will notice an increase in their monthly water and wastewater bill starting in January as the result of a 9 percent rate increase.

The 9 percent rate increase is in water and wastewater basic facility charges and volumetric rates.  The adjustment amounts to about a $3.97 increase for the average household using 5,000 gallons per month.

"At the beginning of the fiscal year we avoided raising rates through major cutbacks in our budget including no salary increases and our first ever reduction in staff.  We refused a rate increase in June 2009 because of the financial hardship being felt by so many of our customers.  However, reduced water consumption because of the economic conditions and wet weather has caused our revenues to be off even more than we projected six months ago.  We have made every effort to save money, even reduced our debt payments, but it has not been enough to correct our financial situation," stated Dr. William Golightly, Commission Chair.

MPW says the new rate is needed to fund rising energy costs, increased expense of materials, supplies, operations, replacement of aging pipes and equipment, and to keep drinking water and the environment clean and safe.  Without the rate increase, MPW would be in violation of a debt coverage requirement noted in bond ordinances.  Such a violation could reduce their credit rating and lead to even larger rate increases in the future.

"Mount Pleasant Waterworks is facing unprecedented economic challenges.  Customer growth is slower than I have ever seen; in fact our number of active accounts has decreased.  Throughout this year, we have -- and will continue -- to stay focused on what is best for our customers. We are not willing to lower the consistent level of service we provide our customers," stated Clay Duffie, General Manager.

"We will continue to implement as many cost saving ideas as possible, but we can only do so much to lower costs.  We need water sales just like any business needs revenue to survive,"  he said.

Even with the increase, MPW customers still have the lowest rates in Charleston County.

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