News

Comparison of Utility Rates Available

Wednesday, June 8, 2022
Vertical water tank with concrete base and blue circular tank storage with black text reading Hillsborough.
Utility fees are reserved entirely for operations and capital improvements within the Water and Sewer Fund, including this elevated storage tank in Waterstone. Revenue is used for no other purpose.

As the Hillsborough Board of Commissioners considers proposed increases to water and sewer rates, you might be interested in learning more about the town’s utility rates and how they compare with other jurisdictions.

Updated information comparing the town’s utility rates with nearby jurisdictions is available on the FAQ: Water and Sewer Rates page of the town’s website. The documents are compiled with data collected by the University of North Carolina Environmental Finance Center in partnership with the North Carolina League of Municipalities.

The survey data allows the town to compare its rates with other utilities with similar characteristics. For example, updated documents on the town’s website compare Hillsborough with other utilities in the Triangle J Council of Governments footprint as well as those within the Upper Neuse River watershed as of January 2022. The complete data from the most recent survey is available on the UNC Environmental Finance Center website.

Highlights

Within the Triangle J Council of Government, at a consumption point of 5,000 gallons:

  • Every utility charges a different rate between in-town customers and out-of-town customers.
  • 37% of utilities charge a higher differential than the Town of Hillsborough for water services, while 39% charge a higher rate for sewer services.
  • Hillsborough charges higher rates than 86% of other utilities for in-town water and 97% for in-town sewer.

Within the Upper Neuse River watershed, at a consumption point of 5,000 gallons:

  • Hillsborough falls in the highest 10% of rates for both in-town and out-of-town water and sewer customers.

Without context, comparing water and sewer rates can be misleading. Utilities in North Carolina are subject to different regulations and service populations. For example, Hillsborough ― along with the North Durham Wastewater Reclamation Facility and the South Granville Water Authority ― is affected by the Falls Lake Rules, North Carolina water quality regulations that require expensive wastewater treatment technologies and periodic facility upgrades. In addition, with a relatively small service population, Hillsborough does not benefit from the same economies of scale as utilities with much larger service populations on which to distribute the costs of service and regulatory compliance.

More information

Additional information that can be found on the frequently asked questions page includes:

  • Why the town has a minimum usage charge.
  • Why rates are higher than that of some surrounding communities.
  • Why out-of-town rates are higher than in-town rates.

The town manager’s recommended budget for Fiscal Year 2022-2023 proposes rate increases of 4.5% for water and 2% for sewer. The monthly minimum volume charge is proposed to decrease from 2,375 gallons to 2,250 gallons for all customers.

Hillsborough operates a water and sewer fund that is separate from its general fund. The water and sewer enterprise fund pays for the costs of providing utility services to the public. The town does not make a profit from providing water and sewer services nor does it use the revenue for other purposes. The revenue for the Water and Sewer Fund comes from fees and charges.

Related documents


Document Fiscal Year 2022-23 Annual Budget Workbook  

Document Effects of the Falls Lake Rules  

Document Comparison of In-Town and Out-of-Town Rates  

Document Water and Sewer Rates Comparisons