Washington Town Council on Monday unanimously approved raising residents' sewer bills by $8 each month to help offset the deficit the town runs each year from expensive wastewater costs.
The change is effective retroactively beginning on Jan. 1, raising residents' base sewer rates from $40 to $48 for the use of fewer than 3,000 gallons of water. For every 1,000 gallons used beyond the floor will cost an additional $23.50, according to the resolution.
Officials expect the price hike to increase the town's revenue by about $10,000 each year, while it’s currently losing about $60,000 per year in wastewater expenses. The town last updated sewer fees in 2015 with changes previously taking effect in 2015 and 2017.
The body also unanimously approved a resolution honoring former longtime Washington Town Attorney John Bennett, who, after more than two decades of service to the town, suddenly resigned in December. Bennett also served as the town’s zoning administrator and public records officer.
“Bennett in his endeavors put the best interests of the Town and his Historic District first, so much so, that he became familiarly known as the ‘protector of Little Washington,” the resolution, written by member Mary Ann Kuhn, said. “Bennett was not only by the Town’s side, but on the Town’s side, during these significant years of service, and consistently displayed a genuine devotion and loyalty to the Town.”
The body will frame a copy of the resolution and have it sent to Bennett’s Culpeper office. Bennett was not present at the meeting; he was out of town, according to Mayor Fred Catlin.
Bennett was replaced as town attorney by Martin Crim, a Manassas lawyer who was confirmed by Town Council on Monday after serving as interim town attorney for several weeks.
Steve Gyurisin, an urban planner who’s zoning administrator for another nearby town, replaced Bennett as zoning administrator. Both men were present at the meeting and spoke before the town council in an official capacity.
Town Council also moved into executive session to discuss with Crim a specific legal matter, which was not disclosed, related to Rush River Commons property owner Chuck Akre’s request to adjust the town’s boundary so his property, which currently straddles the line between Washington and Rappahannock County, can be brought entirely under the town’s jurisdiction to help with his mixed-use development proposal.
The boundary change requires both the Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors and Town Council to independently approve changes then receive the OK from a circuit court judge before going into effect.
Washington Mayor Fred Catlin wrote a letter to the Board of Supervisors last November, asking that the Supervisors consider the request at their December meeting. But the Supervisors opted to push the topic to the new year when the body would no longer be lame duck.
Before moving forward with its own deliberations, the Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors last week agreed to draft a letter to the town asking for more specific information regarding the town’s request to enter into an agreement with the county for the potential boundary line adjustment.