Woodstock lowers utility tap fees

By Alex Bridges

Developers should see some relief when they build in Woodstock.

Town Council voted Tuesday to reduce the fees charged to developers for connecting to Woodstock’s water and sewer services. The new fees take effect immediately, Town Manager Reid Wodicka said Wednesday. The new fees reflect about a 48 percent reduction in the total amount charged to connect to both utilities.

“Essentially what we’re trying to do is when people connect to the system, or new buildings connect to the system, we are asking that they pay into the cost of the capacity for the service,” Wodicka said.

Woodstock charged $5,000 to connect to water and $10,000 to sewer service. The town now will charge $3,300 to connect to water and $4,600 to sewer for a 5/8-inch connection typically used for single-family dwellings. The new fees equate to a nearly 48 percent reduction of the total charges for both utilities.

The town’s fee structure was developed years ago, though some changes were made in 2012. A study conducted during the upgrade of the wastewater treatment plant of the town fees showed Woodstock could not justifiably go any higher.

By contrast, New Market charged a total of $10,515 for both utilities as of the 2013 rates; Middletown, $11,000; Winchester, $12,600; Mount Jackson and Edinburg, $15,000; Strasburg, $16,000; and Stephens City, $18,145. Strasburg recently lowered its total fee from $23,375.

A report released by the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service for 2013 showed Woodstock’s fees fall in the fourth quartile of all connection fees in the state and more expensive that 75 percent of the systems. The report also showed Woodstock’s connection rates are approximately 80 percent higher than the mean and median for county-owned systems.

Town Council decided to revisit the fees in 2012.

“We did have a developer come to us and say, ‘Can you explain to us why the rates are where they are,’ which gave us the opportunity to sort of recalculate them and make sure they are consistent with where they should be,” Wodicka said. “Certainly that feedback from that community has been helpful.”

Town staff members and council should occasionally revisit the fee structure, Wodicka said.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com