STAFFORD TOWNSHIP --- Some of Stafford’s smallest businesses saw the most dramatic rate increases in their water and sewer bills last month.
In the coming months, however, the council and the water and sewer department will look at developing a new rate for commercial properties by looking at their actual consumption as well as meter size.
The rates will be drafted into an ordinance that Township Administrator James Moran hopes will be passed and implemented before the beginning of next year.
“This is a win for the small mom and pop businesses in the township,” said Moran this week, who added getting this done quickly will help all businesses as they plan out next year’s budget.
The increases in the 2012 rates that were billed retroactively and included in recent third quarter billings created a fervor in the township with residents and business owners, who packed this month’s council meeting to express their anger.
Among them were small business owners who said the new rates were “exorbitant” and could force them out of business.
Commercial service rates or “meter rates” are based on the size of the meter at each location, in addition to their actual comsumption rate, said Moran.
The rates are based on the size of the meters, which can run from 5/8” to 10 inches depending on the size of the pipes, he added.
For example a one inch meter rate is $165, while a two inch jumps to $550. “The assumption is the larger the meter the more consumption,” said Moran.
More consumption normally translates in more use of the facilities assets such as pumping stations, pipes and personnell. The scaled meter rates are used to equalize the cost among all consumers, he added.
But many small businesses had larger meters then they needed installed or were in place when the business owner moved in, said the administrator. “However this created an anomaly in that these businesses have very little consumption,” Moran said.
“We have lots of small businesses that may only have a bathroom, but are on a two inch or larger meter,” said Moran. “It’s not fair to them to pay that higher rate, when their impact on the system is minimal,” he added.