Hillsborough Water and Sewer Rates to Increase in July
Monday, June 25, 2018
Hillsborough water and sewer rates will increase with the start of the new fiscal year on July 1.
Water rates are increasing 9.25 percent and sewer rates 7.5 percent for Fiscal Year 2018-19, which runs July 1 of this year to June 30, 2019. The increases were approved by the Hillsborough Board of Commissioners with the adoption of the Fiscal Year 2019 budget on June 11.
Rate changes typically only occur with the adoption of a new budget. Water rates were last increased in July 2012, and sewer rates were last increased in July 2015.
See the attached fact sheet for information on the specific rates for in-town and out-of-town customers during the upcoming fiscal year and for the primary reasons for the increases.
Water Assistance Program
“For those concerned about the affordability of living in this area, especially for people on fixed incomes or facing family emergencies, our Water Assistance Program is a good way to help,” Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens said.
The Water Assistance Program helps eligible customers with paying water and sewer bills and is funded through donations from utility customers. The program is administered through a partnership with the local nonprofit organization Orange Congregations in Mission, and eligible candidates must be recommended by the Orange County Department of Social Services or a local church.
“It’s especially easy to contribute to the program if you are set up for automatic payments by adding a small contribution to each monthly water and sewer bill. That’s what I do,” the mayor noted.
The Water Assistance Program was started in March 2006 with $5,000 of seed money from the town. One-time donations may be made to the fund, or monthly pledges of up to $5 can be added to water and sewer bills.
State law prevents the town from charging different rates to customers based on income. The Fiscal Year 2019 budget includes $30,000 for a rate study to evaluate and explore rate structures that could provide a more equitable way to charge customers.
Water and Sewer Fund
The town’s water and sewer rates are set to cover the costs of providing the utility service, which includes the operation, maintenance and improvements of the water and sewer system.
“The costs of providing water and sewer service are not subsidized by other sources. Nor does the utility generate any profits that subsidize other town or community functions,” the mayor said.
The town has a separate general fund to pay for operations such as planning, garbage collection, and public safety. Property taxes primarily support the General Fund.
“Hillsborough’s water and sewer system is well managed to keep costs as low as possible in the long run — as evidenced by citizen oversight provided by the Water and Sewer Advisory Committee and regular awards the town receives for utility management,” Stevens said. “Quality water and sewer is expensive, in particular due to the significant costs of the reservoir and Wastewater Treatment Plant.”
Hillsborough’s annual budget process includes financial forecasting for the next three fiscal years. Current projections show a need to raise water and sewer rates in fiscal years 2020 and 2021 as well. Lower rate increases in those fiscal years may be possible if revenue exceeds projections.
For additional information, see:
- Frequently asked questions on water and sewer rates
- News release on budget adoption
- Water and Sewer Advisory Committee webpage
- Water Assistance Program webpage