Lexington approves water/sewer rate increase

(The State) Homeowners and businesses are likely to pay a little more starting in mid-summer for water and sewage service provided by Lexington.

Town Council gave initial approval Monday to a 2.5 percent rate hike for its 15,000 utility customers in what might be the first of a series of increases across Lexington County.

Officials in West Columbia and the Joint Municipal Water and Sewer Commission also are looking at small rate hikes while those in Cayce are exploring the step.

Overall, about 57,000 homes and businesses countywide might be paying more soon for water flowing from faucets and disposal of sewage going down the drain.

But the increases taking shape in those communities are much smaller than the 12.1 percent raise pending in nearby Columbia.

“Small incremental increases are better than sticker shock over large ones,” said Jay Nicholson, executive director of the Joint Municipal Water and Sewer Commission that serves 14,000 homes and businesses in Red Bank and other areas.

The increase in Lexington is estimated to add 71 cents to the typical $64 monthly bill of residents in town and $1.52 monthly to the tab of just over $111 monthly for those outside the community.

If it gets final approval, the increase would start July 1.

It’s needed to pay for rising costs of operation, additional facilities to keep pace with growth and increasingly tougher environment protection standards, consultants say.

The increase in Lexington would be the first of five in coming years if the recommendations of consultants are followed.

It won preliminary approval 5-1, with Councilwoman Kathy Maness opposed. “I just have a had time raising (utility) rates and taxes,” she said.

Meanwhile, West Columbia faces an unknown rate hike stemming from $9 million in improvements to meet a federal demand to stop sewage spills into the Congaree River.

The cost of that project would follow a 15 percent increase last year that added $5.50 to the typical residential bill in the city and surrounding neighborhoods.

 

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