BPW Commissioners approve slight rate adjustment

Citing the increased cost of “everything” in doing business, Bamberg Board of Public Works General Manager Bruce Ellis asked and received from the BPW Commissioners a “slight range of adjustments” in certain fees that BPW customers pay at their March 28, meeting, Monday night.

“We need to have a slight adjustment on our charges to get us by to the end of this year,” Ellis said. Even with the adjustment Ellis said the BPW “still has some of the lowest rates in the state.” Ellis noted that the “range of adjustments” would be from two percent to 10 percent on items such as yard lights and security lights.

As an example, a yard light that now cost $7.95 per month will go up to $8.35. A 250 watt flood light that cost $10.95 per month will increase to $11.55. Ellis stated that with Santee Cooper, Carolina Gas Transmissions and DHEC all raising their rates the BPW had “no choice but to go up, not much but a little.” “All of these moderate rate increases if you look at them are to keep us from going under,” Ellis said. “We need to look at the budget and study this in depth later.”

Also during the meeting:

• General Manager Ellis gave an update on House Bill 3790 that would create a county water and sewer authority. Ellis said that one thing that “bothered” him about the “localized” legislation that has passed the House of Representative and only needs one more reading in the Senate to become law is that “no municipality may extend water lines outside of its present facility without the prior written approval of the authority.” “That’s just one of many things that should be of concern in there,” Ellis said.

Ellis noted that after spending a $150,000 grant on a study of the proposed project, the bill was introduced in the legislature without receiving the input from any of the cities or towns for review or comments. “What concerns me is they are doing a back-door approach having not talked to the towns, just introduced a bill.”

Ellis, who said that he has spoken with Senator Brad Hutto and written a letter to Gov. Nikki Haley to express his concerns about the water project; noted that when the legislation passes, the cities of Bamberg and Denmark need to be main players in the project,. “It’s going to pass; we at least need to get a main player in the regional water system. The BPW and City of Denmark are main players, that’s where the water is coming from.”

• The BPW Commissioners gave unanimous approval to go on the books as accepting the residents of the Family Circle Community into the City’s water system provided the County of Bamberg is successful in securing a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). Ellis noted the cost of running a water line to the community would be $498,000. “Water lines are expensive,” Ellis noted.