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Consumers Call Berkeley County Water Rate Increase 'Unfair'

If you live in Berkeley County, your water bill could be going up in the highest increase ever. The water district says, it's to cover the cost of new connections, something current residents say they shouldn't have to pay for.
BERKELEY COUNTY, WV - If you live in Berkeley County, your water bill could be going up in the highest increase ever.

The water district says, it's to cover the cost of new connections, something current residents say they shouldn't have to pay for.

The water district has filed to raise the water rate 19.5%. It's a move they say they're forced to make because the Public Service Commission ordered they can no longer collect "capacity improvement fees."

By stopping the fees, the PSC has ordered the district to pass the charges for water connections to new homes and building to its existing customers.

"Why should existing customers pay for the infrastructure to provide water for new customers coming on line," says Paul Fisher, executive director of the water district. "Why shouldn't they pay for it themselves?"

This would be the single biggest water rate increase ever in Berkeley County and it's going to fund infrastructure that some say current consumers shouldn't have to pay for.

Consumers say they want to pay for their own water connections and not others.

"Long time residents, why should we pay for new residents? They should pay for their own hookups and definitely doesn't seem fair," says resident Susan Dickson.

Paul Fisher says nearby areas charge much more on new home connections than Berkeley County.

"Frederick County, Virginia, their water availability fee is $6,080 for a single family residence. The cost now for Berkeley County for water is $450. Does that make sense? It doesn't to me," he says.

And many current residents we spoke to agreed with him.

"We don't know whats in the future," says resident Bob Selter. "We have no idea what the capacity of people will be. And what they're doing is they're trying to build a fund."

Based on the filings to the PSC, water rates could go up 5% within this 60-day period. The PSC will then decide just how much the water rates will go up permanently.

If you want to protest this increase, the Public Service Commission asks that you contact them in Charleston. The mailing address is to The Secretary, Public Service Commission of West Virginia, PO Box 812, Charleston, WV 25323.

You can also visit http://www.psc.state.wv.us and click "Submit a Comment."
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