Utilities News

Utility Commission - May 14, 2018

The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Utility Commission approved increases today in water and sewer rates, as well as disposal rates at the solid waste and construction and demolition landfills, for fiscal year 2018-2019. The new rates will take effect July 1.

The rate changes for water and sewer service will support the commission's $45.5 million operations budget, $51.5 million debt service budget, and $114.7 capital improvements budget for the fiscal year that also begins July 1.

The commission approved a 3.5 percent increase in water rates and a 5 percent increase in sewer rates. The service availability charge for water and sewer service for residential water meters will increase by $1.41 per month. All meters have a monthly fee that is charged regardless of usage. The charge varies by size of meter.

The service availability charges recover a portion of overhead expenses such as meter reading, billing, customer service, and debt-service payments for capital improvements. Water and sewer rates are based on volume and cover the majority of the cost of water and sewer treatment, water distribution and sewer collection.

The 2018 rate adjustments are based on a detailed cost-of-service analysis to ensure that each utility customer pays a proportionate share of the cost to provide services.

With these changes, the monthly charge for the average household in Winston-Salem using 4,500 gallons of water will increase by $2.95 to $49.69, or 10 cents more per day than the average household currently pays. The table below shows how the changes will affect various customers after July 1.

Cost per Month

Light User

Average Household

Typical Fast Food Restaurant

Industrial Customer

High Water Usage Industrial Customer

Current Cost






Proposed Cost






Net increase






Utilities Director Courtney Driver noted that the rate increase is driven by the need to generate sufficient revenue to fund needed capital improvements and on-going debt service payments. The division’s six-year capital improvements plan totals $267.5 million through fiscal year 2023-2024. As of June 30, 2018, the total outstanding revenue bond debt will be $426,130,000.

Driver noted that overall operating expenses will increase by $1.1 million in fiscal year 2018-19. Debt service will increase $3.7 million, to $51.5 million, due to repayments for state loans, a revenue bond issue in the fall of 2017, and current scheduled payments.

"Increasing rates to our customers is never an easy decision," Driver said. "However it is required to provide a long-term, safe, reliable and environmentally sound water and sewer system. Capital spending is necessary to maintain and update critical infrastructure to protect our environment while providing quality service to our customers."

At the Hanes Mill Road landfill, the disposal rate for the large-volume users will remain unchanged at $32 per ton for large-volume users and $34 per ton for all other users. The disposal rate at the Old Salisbury Road landfill for construction and demolition debris will be $33 per ton, a $1 increase. At Overdale and Forum 52 Yard Waste Facilities, the rate will be $32 per ton, an increase of $1.  These rates do not include the $2 per ton North Carolina disposal tax collected at Hanes Mill Road and Old Salisbury Road. The new landfill and yard waste facility rates will take effect July 1.

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