Higher water, sewer fees catch some by surprise
By Bobby Bryant
The city of Darlington’s new fee increases for water, sewer and sanitation kicked in with this month’s bills, and it was a surprise for some residents who’d forgotten about the rate hikes and others who might have never known they were coming.
In July, Darlington City Council finalized fee increases that the city said would cost the typical household about $216 more per year. Council raised city water/sewer rates $9.95 a month for residential and commercial users, raised sanitation rates $6 a month for households and businesses and raised stormwater rates $2.50 a month for residences and $3.50 a month for businesses.
The hikes were expected to start appearing on bills this month, and they did. City officials said they have been getting complaints from residents who were taken by surprise even though the increases were repeatedly covered in the News & Press and were spelled out in a fact sheet included in city water bills earlier.
Some residents have said the increases are considerably more than the city told them to expect, but officials say they are exactly what council approved in July.
“We’re not here to raise fees to hurt people,” Mayor Curtis Boyd said at last week’s council meeting. “I ask that the citizens give us time to correct matters that have been going on for years (with the city’s water/sewer system and storm drains).”
Boyd noted the city is starting on a program to repave at least 18 streets in Darlington, including Bowen Street, Country Club Road, Court Street, Darlington Avenue, Dutton Lane, Elma Circle, Green Drive, Haynesworth Alley, Henry Street, Jeffery Street, Joy Street, McInnis Street, Lochend Drive, Richmond Street, Tee Circle, Ward Street and Winston Street.
The mayor asked residents to “please be positive” when talking about Darlington on social media, such as Facebook, “because Facebook is seen everywhere.”
“I’ll be very blunt with you,” Boyd said. “I make $600 a month (as mayor), and I work 24/7 to do this job. I give back. The (council members) sitting up here with me … this is what we do, devote our time and effort to make Darlington better. We’re making great progress.”