City of Darlington proposes water rate hike - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

City of Darlington proposes water rate hike

A Pearl Street sewer line breaks in Darlington. City crews had to repair the 70- to 90-year-old pipe. (Source: Audrey Biesk) A Pearl Street sewer line breaks in Darlington. City crews had to repair the 70- to 90-year-old pipe. (Source: Audrey Biesk)
City of Darlington residents pay water and sewer bills at city hall. (Source: Audrey Biesk) City of Darlington residents pay water and sewer bills at city hall. (Source: Audrey Biesk)

DARLINGTON, SC (WMBF) - The residents of Darlington could see an increase in their water and sewer bill soon if the city council passes second reading of a proposed ordinance.

That ordinance would start out increasing the utility bill 1-and-a-half percent, which is $1 dollar for both water and sewer per the monthly bill.

Per unit, that increase could go from $7.75 for water and sewer up to $8.75.

The reason for the proposed increase is to keep up with rising costs and to provide better quality water lines.

Some areas of Darlington have pipes between 70 and 90 years old that are decaying and are too old to maintain. Lisa Chalian-Rock, spokesperson for the city of Darlington, said city council is trying to invest in better infrastructure and upgrade water and sewer lines, but they need the money to do it.

So for projects we are doing that we have $500,000 grants for, currently, in southeast Darlington, we have storm water and water and sewer lines going in, and southwest Darlington, we have sewer lines being replaced,” she said.

Chalian-Rock is also the director for planning and economic development in the city, so she knows the city has to match federal grant money, which is typically by 20 percent in order to receive the funds.

“The city has to come up with $100,000 to fund that project and if we get future grants, we will have to have that match," said Chalian-Rock

She added that it will no help if the city’s water rate is not keeping up with other local area averages. 

“Right now, we are lower than Florence," Chailan-Rock said. "We’re lower than the city of Hartsville, and lower than the county water."

The city does not want to get into a situation where they have to increase the rates in the double digits. Chailian-Rock said they would rather do it slow and in increments, as opposed to hitting people with a big change at once.

The city estimates a $75,000 revenue to come from the water and sewer rate increase.

The next public hearing will be Tuesday, Aug. 2, at 6 p.m., at city hall, where people can weigh in on the decision. If the ordinance is passed, it will go into effect on the October water bill. 

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