Dagsboro council to discuss effects of water-rate hike

Following last month’s notice from the Town of Millsboro that it was significantly increasing their water rates, Dagsboro officials have been scrambling to figure out how exactly the Town would be able to make up the difference in cost when they’ve already passed their budget for the next fiscal year.

“My budget is blown out of the water,” Dagsboro Town Administrator Cindi Brought said. “I don’t know where I am going to come up with the money at this point.”

Millsboro’s rate increase became necessary due to capital issues and paying debt services.

Now, to address the major financial issue they are facing, Brought and the town council have made the matter a top priority at this month’s council meeting, which is being held on Wednesday, Sept. 18, at 6 p.m. at the Bethel Center, located at 28307 Clayton Street.

“It’s critical that people come out so that we hear from them how this will also affect them,” Brought added. “We just raised our water rates this past year, in January. We had special meetings. We had public workshops. The public was well aware. This rate increase has been in place for two months now, and we are already in a hole against the budget that we passed because of it.”

In May, the Dagsboro council approved the preliminary site plans for an Artesian Water Company project that will include a 1-million-gallon elevated water tower, three wells and a maintenance building at a site off of Route 20 near Vines Creek Road.

While that could ultimately be the answer to Dagsboro’s dilemma, making it so they no longer needing to rely on Millsboro for their water, the contract between the two towns runs through 2022.

“Artesian is coming in,” Brought mentioned. “They realize what is going on, and they are doing their best to get open. They are diligently continuing with construction.”

Currently, Dagsboro’s water rate for their residents stands at $4.15 per 1,000 gallons, which became effective as of Jan. 1. With that adjustment in the rate, the monthly fixed charge was reduced from $40 to $35.

“I was just finally getting out of the red in the water budget by doing what we did,” Brought admitted. “It’s just devastating. How are we going to cover this for a year, or longer if needed? It would have been nice — a professional courtesy, if you will — if we knew ahead of time before I did my budget and passed it. Now, we have no option but to pass it on to the customer.”

She said that is why Wednesday’s meeting is so important for residents to attend.

“I cannot stress enough how critical it is to hear from the residents how this will affect them,” concluded Brought. “I am very hopeful that we will have a good turnout so that people can hear everything about what is going on.”

Editor’s note: The Coastal Point has been given approval to stream the meeting live on our Facebook page during the water discussion, which we will do as a courtesy for those who are unable to attend.

 

By Jason Feather

Staff Reporter