Our water system was established in 1972. It was initially designed to provide water for the rural homes in Robertson County that, until the system was formed, relied on personal wells. We are not a department in our county government, our name only represents the county we service. We are a nonprofit rural water supply system and do not receive money from a tax base, our only source of income is water sales. It has always been the Corporation’s intent to keep water rates as low as possible and still be able to supply the highest quality water with adequate pressure to all we serve. I think we would all agree that our county has seen many changes since its inception. This has caused many challenges for our water system. Not only do we have aging lines and infrastructure, but our current plants are being strained as well. Over the years the Corporation Board has approved many positive system improvements that have made it possible to continue water service to the current areas already served.
This system has grown and we are now serving over 1300 residential meters. We have two 3” industrial meters and three 2” industrial meters. Small residential developments and larger subdivisions have been added in recent years with more to come. Although the developers have provided some financial assistance for system improvements, we still have a need for a larger infrastructure to be able to provide for current members and future growth. Growth is a positive thing for our system. The more members we have to share the costs of operation, the longer we can keep the current water rates without an increase.
Because of the growth and interest in our area due to schools and location, our plants are currently over capacity for connections. In the last three years we have worked with our engineer to devise a plan to meet the future demands of the system. This plan requires a new well and plant site, and many miles of line replacement. To finance these infrastructure projects, we are applying for a USDA-Rural Development loan. It is a 40-year interest bearing loan. The loan amount currently being sought is roughly $5 million dollars ($16,000/month).
It is the belief of the RCWSC Board of Directors that future members should bear the cost of the infrastructure needed to provide water utility service…this cost should not be shared by the current member base by means of continual rate increases. To achieve this, our Board approved the implementation of an Equity Buy-In Fee for all new service connections added to the system. This fee is calculated annually using information given to us by our auditing firm. The factors are overall asset value minus the amount of outstanding debt. The resulting amount is then divided by the number of members. The current Equity Buy-In Fee is $2,379. This fee is required on all new connections and is in addition to the current membership fee of $100 and current meter tap installation fee of $1400. Careful management along with an Equity Buy-In Fee should allow us to pay our loan without continually raising rates.
This fee is not designed to pay for water line extensions to potential members where there is no service. We will continue to adhere to our Corporation Tariff which states that all new line extensions, line upgrades, and engineering fees shall be paid by the potential members or developers requesting to get water service to a location.
The Equity Buy-In Fee is also not the answer to growing operation costs due to inflation or the rising cost of materials. Water rates are evaluated every year to ensure that our cost of operations is being covered by our water sales. Rates may in fact be increased from time to time. Please be assured we will not raise water rates until is absolutely necessary to cover our cost of operations. Also be assured that we work very hard to keep operation costs low. We perform plant maintenance, line installation, vehicle repair, and construction projects in house as much as possible.
As always, if you ever have any questions or concerns please contact our office and I will be glad to speak with you about them.