Tapped for cash?
Water availability fees in Fauquier County could be going up in the near future.
Just how much or whether they do at all could be determined, in part, by the findings of a Water and Sanitation Authority-commissioned outside review of the fee structure.
Next week, the WSA will be reviewing findings from Draper Aden Associates before eventually determining the future cost of plugging into the Fauquier County water system.
After reviewing it internally, the Board of Directors will hold a public hearing on any change in the fee structure as early as January, said Authority Finance Director William Skinker.
With more than $42.2 million in capital projects looming in the organization's five-year plan, the WSA Board of Directors felt it was important to have its methodology in calculating tap fees examined by an outside organization, said Skinker.
Currently, the connection fees range from as little as $6,500 for a ¾ by 5/8 inch pipe to $195,000 for a four-inch wide pipe. A typical single family home uses a 5/8 inch pipe whereas a commercial property like the Gaithersburg Cabinet in Vint Hill paid $16,250 for an 1 inch connection, said Skinker.
According to a letter sent from Draper to WSA, the overall water system has an additional capacity of 3,207 EDUs or equivalent residential connections.
However, that doesn't mean that you can build 3,200 new homes in Bealeton, said Skinker.
Among other things, the Draper study will calculate an availability fee by dividing the current value of the system by the total capacity of the system and multiply that by 400 gallons per EDU.
Water availability has been an issue for years in several areas of the county including Marshall, where there are currently only 33 connections available, said Skinker.
Most recently, the developer of the 17/66 commercially-zoned property near Interstate 66 gave up rights to 120 water taps, 87 of which were snapped up by two different residential developers, said Skinker.
One of those was the Goose Pond, which didn't have the water availability to build a proposed townhome complex in 2009, said Skinker.
Goose Pond's current application,which is being reviewed by the county and WSA, would involve building 71 units in a condominium style where the taps are shared by multiple residents, said Skinker.
Purchased last month, the taps cost the residential developer roughly $415,000. Skinker said it's important to have developers pay for as much of the expansion of the county's water system, so that the cost of the implementation doesn't fall on the backs of the current water users.
According to the Authority's recently audited fiscal 2013 financial report, WSA reported more than $1.1 million in tap fee revenue compared with just $600,000 the year before.
The overwhelming majority of that money is coming from water connection fees, said Skinker.
There is also a surcharge of $3,250 for hooking up to the Marshall system, which is helping to pay off the acquisition of the old system that WSA took over in December of 2006.
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