Why Are the Water Bills in Manassas Park Higher This Month?

Your Patch editor again explains why the water and sewer base rate doubled in Manassas Park.

Many people keeled over, cursed or cried when they read their water and sewer bills this month in Manassas Park.

Yep. This is the first billing cycle that reflects the new base rate of $52 a month per customer; doubling the $26 fee they were paying. The fee is in addition to the amount billed for water usage and is static.

A couple of residents contacted me this week about why the water bill is so high.

Over the past year or so, I've done several pieces on this matter, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to publish another piece about Manassas Park's water and sewer bills and how city officials arrived at the rate increase. 

OK, so here are the basics:

Manassas Park City Council voted on May 15 to increase the base rate

Before the vote, city staff explained that an increase was needed to repair the systems, pay bonds and save money in the long run.

Council voted 6-1 to approve the increase. The one nay vote was that of , who said he voted "no" because he feels there are other ways to improve the water and sewer systems, such as state grants and regional water solutions.

Water and sewer payments go into the city's Enterprise Fund which has operated in the red for years. It was able to do so without major consequences because it was receiving millions of dollars in one-time tap fees from new construction projects, which have since ceased.

To stop the bleed, city officials have to increase the rates.

Officials said the rate increase is also needed to pay for the city’s utilities bonds which are due to increase in Fiscal Year 2016 by some $1 million.

The city’s has utility bond payments because it borrowed money to buy water rights from Manassas City and the Service Authority of Prince William County, Zumwalt said.

The city also has to chip on the Upper Occoquan Service Authority’s (UOSA) bonds.

Manassas Park owns a little more than 5 percent of UOSA. The rest is owned by Manassas, Prince William and Fairfax Counties.

Manassas Park has to pay UOSA some $1.5 million this year for its bonds, Zumwalt said.

That amount will increase by $100,000 every year until it reaches a plateau, he said.

City staff said the inefficiencies in the city’s aging water and sewage systems also attribute to the need for a rate increase. To improve the system it will cost around $150,000 a year, city officials said.

The city is losing some of the water it buys from Manassas City and Service Authority of Prince William County which purchases its water from Fairfax County.

Still confused?

Here are links to several other Patch stories on Manassas Park's water and sewer system.

May 15: City Council Approves Water, Sewer Rate Increase

April 25: Residents Question Officials About Proposed Water, Sewer Bill Increase

April 18: Water and Sewer Bill Set to Increase

June 25, 2011: Public Works Director Explains City's Water Sewer Issues

April 20, 2011: Missing Water, Operating in Red Could Cause Water Bill to Increase




JD August 02, 2012 at 05:53 PM
THIS IS F'ING RIDICULOUS!!! I live alone in a one-bedrom apartment in Manassas park, and my waster bill was $74!!! i must leave the water on and running all day for it to be that expensive!!! It's a damn shame my water bill is more that my cell phone bill and almost as much as my car insurance!! THIS IS SUCH A RIP-OFF and I'm REALLY considering moving because it is ABSOLOUTELY RIDICULOUS!!!
Jamie M. Rogers August 02, 2012 at 06:25 PM
I'm right there with you, JD.
Bloomie August 02, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Have you noticed how nobody is watering their lawn anymore, or washing their own car? The $3 car wash at the new car wash has become quite a value anyway.
SG September 28, 2012 at 10:06 PM
Yep, it is way too much. My bil is ~$132. Was around $70. My electicity bill is lower during spring and fall. Why does Manassas City and the rest of PW don't pay as much as we do?
WR July 02, 2013 at 03:19 PM
If Manassas Park cannot find a way to provide cheaper water, they need to consider getting out of the water business, much like Fairfax City did. All residents and the city benefited from the deal Fairfax City made with Fairfax Water, much like Manassas Park residents would benefit from an arrangement between it and another local water service provider


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