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Water rates go up in Palmyra

By January Palmyra residents will see about a 50 percent increase in their water bills. This is due to an increase in the cost of water purchased from the Ramsey Water Co., an additional 10 percent charge by the town to cover utility operating costs and another 18 percent rate increase to cover the cost of financing ongoing water delivery system improvements.
The cost of water purchased from Ramsey Water Co. is going up 90 cents per 1,000 gallons to help Ramsey recover the cost of system improvements made in 1999.
This increase will be passed on to customers in Palmyra with an additional 10 percent increase tacked on to cover the cost of inflation, routine capital improvements, and provide some working capital for the town’s utility.
According to figures provided in a report compiled for Palmyra by O. W. Krohn and Associates, accountants from Westfield, the cost of the first 2,000 gallons of water used by a customer will immediately increase from $5.46 to $6.99 for each 1,000 gallons used; the cost of the next 8,000 gallons will go from $4.86 to $6.33 for each 1,000 gallons used.
A family using 5,000 gallons of water a month now pays about $25.50 per month. That will increase about $7.47 to approximately $32.97.
Another water rate increase of 18 percent, to cover a $1.2 million bond issue to pay for improvements to the Palmyra water distribution system, will take effect after the first of the year.
The final cost of water to Palmyra customers will be $8.14 for each of the first 2,000 gallons and $7.37 for each of the next 8,000 gallons.
The cost of 5,000 gallons used after the first of the year will be approximately $38.29, an increase of about $13.89 or a little more than 50 percent from the original price.
Krohn said, “Palmyra has to raise its water rates immediately because it is costing the town $6,500 a month to make up the difference in what it costs to buy water from Ramsey and what they are collecting from customers.”
“The final total of all the water rate increases will be around 50 percent,” said Roy (Speedy) McClanahan, Palmyra town board president. “That seems like a big increase, but we haven’t had a water rate increase in Palmyra in a long time. We are building a new water tower and making a lot of improvements to our system so we have to increase rates.
“For 20 or 25 years water customers in Palmyra only paid about $5.10 per 1,000 gallons. They had cheap water for a long time.”
“We’re working hard to improve this town and the water and sewer systems, and we still have to deal with people complaining about the increasing the cost of water service,” said George Morgan, a town board member. “Not so long ago people would come to our meetings with jars of brown water complaining about the water quality. A survey of the system was done years ago but the former town board didn’t do anything to correct the problems they found. Now we’re fixing the problems and it is expensive to do.”
“Right now we’re almost at a point where we will have all the water, sewer and sidewalk problems corrected, and Palmyra will be good for the next 20 to 50 years.” McClanahan said.