Loan Will Prevent 48 Cents Water Rate Hike

The Smithfield Town Council has agreed to borrow $1.18 million to finance numerous water and sewer projects.

Tuesday night, the council unanimously approved the projects and the borrowing of the funds. Had the town decided not to borrow the money, water rates could potentially have been increased 48.5 cents per 1,000 gallons to pay for the projects, according to Smithfield Finance Director Greg Siler.

Greg-SilerAmong the projects funded include the installation of a sewer line and a pump station upgrade on Highway 210 that will cost $265,000; $25,000 to replace a two inch water line off Vermont Street; $130,000 to install a Chlorine Dioxide System; $50,000 to purchase 9 space lift station pumps; $81,500 to buy a backhoe; and $50,000 to replace water valves around town.    

Siler said he sought bids for the project and BB&T was the low bidder with a 2.06 percent interest rate for 10 years. The towns annual payment will be approximately $131,000. 

Even though the council agreed to borrow money for the project so water rates would not jump by 48.5 cents, water and sewer rates will still be going up for customers in March.   

In a 4-to-2 vote, during a special called meeting on January 14th, the town board voted to increase base water rates for in-town customers from $6.02 to $9.00 and out-of-town base rates from $12.00 to $15.00. Sewer rates for in-town customers was also increased from $7.98 to $10.00.  The rate hikes take effect in March.

Councilmen Marlon Lee and Travis Scott were the only board members to vote in January against the higher rates.