The Rehoboth Beach utility rate working group is proposing a utility rate structure for Rehoboth Beach.

The group was formed to study water and wastewater rates and has recommended a ready-to-use fee and consumption-based fees. The city is committed to providing a fair and equitable price for all; adequate funding for these systems to meet the growing and changing needs of the community; and to comply with state and federal regulations. In reviewing a rate proposal, the city considers what system improvements are needed to meet these goals and what level of rates will cover their cost.

Significant increases in projected expenditures for both the water and wastewater funds are anticipated to outpace projected revenues necessitating an increase to the current rates. Over the next 12 years with the existing rate structure, the water fund is expected to be $20 million short of the estimated requirements for the water system. The shortfall is attributed to the increased maintenance and rehabilitation needs of the water supply and distribution systems as outlined in the Drinking Water Infrastructure Asset Management Plan prepared in 2016.

The wastewater fund is projected to be $25 million below its revenue projection over the same period. The shortfall can be attributed to the large debt repayment associated with the $40 million outfall loan, approximately $30 million worth of additional repairs needed at the wastewater treatment facility and other maintenance and repairs to the system recommended in the 2016 Wastewater Infrastructure Asset Management Plan. Because of these dramatic shortfalls, the board of commissioners approved an interim rate of a 30% increase for water and a 60% increase for wastewater.

The group proposed water and sewer rates recommendations for every 1,000 gallons used, $14.70 for wastewater and $6.30 for water. A ready-to-serve fee is recommended of $124 annually for 1-inch meters for wastewater and $42 annually for water. For 2-inch meters, the annual fees proposed are $452 for wastewater and $154 for water. For larger meter sizes, costs also increase. To avoid having a rate that changes every year to cover that year’s expenses, the group recommends establishing a rate covering several consecutive years to provide consistency and predictability for the customers. They evaluated multiple options and recommended using a four-year term. Although this results in more significant rate increases in the first year, it prevents a much higher spike in rates in future years, thus “smoothing” the rate increases necessary over four-years.

Staff reports and supporting documents can be accessed at cityofrehoboth.civicweb.net/portal.

The city will hold a town hall meeting at 10 a.m. July 12 in the Commissioners Room at 229 Rehoboth Ave. For the meeting agenda, visit cityofrehoboth.civicweb.net/portal. To live stream this meeting, click on the video button above the meeting agenda or by navigating to youtube.com/c/rehobothbeach. An opportunity will be provided for public comment. Written comments may also be submitted by mail or email to communications@cityofrehoboth.com.