The Vienna Town Council on May 11 set water and sewer rates for the upcoming fiscal year, but held off on decisions regarding the fiscal 2021 budget and the potential hiring of a consultant to help update the town’s zoning code.
The Council unanimously approved the new water and sewer rates, which were based on a five-year plan recommended under a rate study conducted a few years ago.
The new consumption and service charges will take effect July 1, the start of fiscal 2021. Town officials estimate the average residential customer’s annual bill will rise by $64.80, or 10 percent.
Water rates will increase 6.6 percent. The town on a quarterly basis will charge residential and commercial customers the following rates per 1,000 gallons: $5.65 for the first 9,000 gallons, $6.10 for 9,001 to 18,000 gallons and $7.05 for 18,001 gallons and more.
Sewer rates will rise by 8.2 percent. Vienna each quarter will charge residential and commercial customers these rates per 1,000 gallons: $7.95 for the first 9,000 gallons, $8.60 for between 9,001 and 18,000 gallons, and $9.95 for 18,001 gallons and more.
The town, in an effort to bring fixed service charges in line with industry standards, will raise them from $23 to $30 per quarter for residential customers, an increase of 30.4 percent.
Commercial customers, who pay based on meter size, will see an identical percentage increase. The town will charge them per-quarter base fees of $43.30 for five-eighths-of-an-inch meters, $108.25 for 1-inch meters, $216.50 for 1.5-inch meters, $346.40 for 2-inch meters, $692.80 for 3-inch meters and $1,082.50 for 4-inch meters.
Vienna also will raise its water-availability fee by 2.5 percent and its meter-purchase charge by 3.5 percent, in both cases to match Fairfax County’s fees.
Council members decided not to act yet, however, on the town’s proposed fiscal year 2021 budget and its associated tax rates. The Council unanimously voted to move that vote, which had been scheduled for the May 11 meeting, to June 15.
The decision will give town staff more time to evaluate the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated economic downturn, Vienna officials said.
“I think this is the right thing to do,” said Mayor Laurie DiRocco. “This is changing sometimes on a daily basis. Waiting until June 15 makes sense.”
The Council also decided to hold off for at least a month on potentially hiring a consultant to help clarify, simplify, reorganize and update the town’s subdivision and zoning ordinances.
The meeting’s agenda item had called for the Council to consider a $223,900 contact with the consulting firm Calfee Zoning. The company, whose bid beat those of three competitors, focuses almost exclusively on communities that have between 10,000 and 50,000 residents and are located within larger metropolitan areas, town officials said.
The Council delayed that decision at the recommendation of Town Manager Mercury Payton.
“I’ve been very engaged in conversations with the governor’s office and regional leaders and it seems clear that we’re moving toward a gradual reopening of the state,” Payton said. “With this forward progress, I feel it would be appropriate to hold off on consideration of this item until after June 10 when the governor’s stay-at-home order may be lifted.”