Water & Sewer Rate Increase Adjustment
The Livingston Township Council adopted Ordinances 25-2021 and 26-2021 on August 9, 2021 which increased the rates charged to consumers by the Water and Sewer utilities respectively. These increases were necessary due to increased current and future capital expenditures to upgrade the water and sewer facilities to comply with new regulations, and due to increased operating costs of both utilities while the rates had not been increased in over nine years. However, the new increased rates still remain very competitive with, and in fact below the rates, of our neighboring towns.
The water and sewer charges appear on a combined bill that is sent to each customer quarterly. The customer base is divided into three billing cycles, to evenly spread out the work for the collection department. Thus, each month approximately 1/3 of the customers receive a bill for the preceding three months. As a result, with the ordinance adoption at the beginning of August, different billing cycle groups would have different amounts of their water and sewer subject to the increased rates for the initial cycle.
Group 1. With respect to the rate increase, the first cycle will be referred to as Group 1. Group 1 customers received bills in the first week of August for water and sewer services delivered the three preceding months. Those customers should not have been subject to the new rates until their next billing cycle in the first week of November. Unfortunately, because the new rates were entered into the billing program once adopted, the effect was to apply the increased rate to the Group 1 bills sent in early August. That should not have happened, and those bills should have been based on the old rates. However, many customers have already paid those bills at the higher rate and retroactively adjusting and sending new bills (or crediting in the case of those who already paid) for each of over 3,000 accounts would be problematic and inefficient. Therefore, to correct this erroneous billing, the Group 1 billing cycle customers next quarterly bills, which will be sent at the beginning of November (for water and sewer delivered in August, September and October after the rate increase) will be billed at the previous lower rates. This will offset their most recent quarterly bills that were erroneously sent at the new higher rate.
Group 2. The next billing cycle received two months of water and sewer service delivered before the new rates and one month after the new rates. The bills for this group, just sent in early September, were based on an apportioned or average rate, using the old and new rates. Thus, their bills for this cycle are based on 2/3 (2 mos.) at the old lower rates and 1/3 (1 mo.) at the new higher rates to arrive at one-time "apportioned" rates that are applied to their total consumption this cycle.
Group 3. The final billing cycle, who will be billed in early October, will have received one month of service prior to the new rates and will receive two months of service after the new rates. Thus, their bills are based on 1/3 (1 mo.) at the old lower rates and 2/3 (2 mos.) at the new higher rates.
These adjustments will ensure that every account will effectively be billed at the older lower rate for services delivered prior to the increase and at the new higher rate for services rendered after the increase. Utilizing this method will make the billings fair while minimizing the impact on administrative resources and time in making individual adjustments on each of the 10,000+ water and sewer accounts. (20K total accounts)
After these adjustments are made for these current cycles, all accounts will then be fully billed at the new rates for future cycles.