Concerns continue to mount over the way New Hanover County residents are charged for water and sewer. The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority took over Wilmington’s water and sewer last year. Since then, they’ve been playing a game of billing catch-up, much to the dismay of residents.
Wednesday morning, the CFPUA opened their budget meeting up to the public, only to find out that the public keeps voicing the same concerns…
Rhonda Ponos has two daughters under the age of seven. Keeping them dressed, fed, and clean requires water, but after she got a whopper of a water bill, she’s been cutting back as much as she can. “I hate to penalize my kids for taking baths, we are trying to conserve as much as possible,” she said.
The CFPUA bills households based on gallons used.
For example, if a family of four is using 12,000 gallons of water, and a single resident next door is using 9,000 gallons, the family of four is actually being more conservative, but because they use more gallons, they’re placed in a higher tier and forced to pay more.
The tier system charges three different rates, based on the first 9,000 gallons used, the second 9,000 gallons and so forth.
“That current rate structure is tied to water consumption, without taking into consideration the number of individuals that live at a particular address,” said Michael Hackeling.
“We feel discriminated against, and we feel that this tier rating they have is discrimination against those who have more than two people in their household,” Ponos said.
Ponos also owns rental property. CFPUA bills many landlords, not tenants, for water usage.
She says because the bills have been so late, by the time she’s gotten them in the mail, the tenants have moved out. “As landlords, property owners, we’ve been paying tenants bills, and as much as the bills have been delayed, it’s been escalating.”
And because she can’t control how much water those tenants are using, she says it’s another example of why the tier billing system is unfair.