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Free Lance-Star reporter Robyn Sidersky covers Caroline County government and schools. You can reach her at 540/374-5413 or rsidersky@freelancestar.com. You can follow coverage on Facebook or Twitter as well.

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Availability fees going up to bring debt down

BY PORTSIA SMITH

Caroline County supervisors will have to raise availability fees to help pay off utility debt.

The increases are necessary to help pay off the $45 million in debt service made by the Utilities Department. About $16.4 million of that was borrowed last month to upgrade and expand the county’s wastewater treatment plant.

The expansion would triple the plant’s capacity to 1.5 million gallons per day when completed and would create capacity for future residential and business growth.

The proposed availability fees, which are paid by developers, call for a $4,000 increase. Water hookups would go up by $500 to $8,500, and sewer hookups by $3,500 to $12,000.

Interim Public Utilities Director Joseph Schiebel said without the increase, other options would have been to raise taxes or raise water and sewer rates.

On Tuesday night, supervisors voted unanimously to send the proposal to a public hearing on December 7.

The county last increased availability fees in July by $2,500 in order to continue having a self-sufficient Utility Fund.

The Utilities Department also is offering a discount on availability fees for some existing county residents that are on well water, but would like to hook up to the county system.

By Dec. 31, 2011, some residents can hook up to the county system for a $2,800 availability fee, Schiebel said.

This option would be available to residents who already live near an existing water line, such as in Milford; along State Route 1 between Ladysmith and Carmel Church; a section of Ladysmith Road and soon along Ruther Glen Road.

Scheibel said the county is currently at 13.5 hook-ups, and hope to have 75 by the end of June.

Other board action included:

  • Approving a one-time bonus for county employees of $500 for full-time employees and $125 for part-time employees. The awards would only be given to employees who experienced reduction in their salaries earlier this year.
  • approving about $9,000 to extend the FREDericksburg Regional Transit bus system through mid-February to gather ridership data. Data results will determine if the bus service will continue in Caroline.
  • receiving a presentation from representatives from Fort Lee on their proposal to use rail to transport troops to Fort AP Hill.
  • approving a joint application with the school board to apply for up to $15 million in school improvement projects.
  • approving a request to appropriate Education Jobs Funds in the amount of $946,574.38. The funds will be used to hire teachers to reduced class sizes; to provide additional instructional resource personnel; to hire needed maintenance and custodial staff and to hire other staff as needed.
  • moving the Dec. 14 meeting to Dec. 7 at 6 p.m. at the Community Services Center.

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/carolinecrossroads/2010/11/17/availability-fees-going-up-to-bring-debt-down/

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