A water connection surcharge that was implemented to help purchase property for a proposed reservoir in Albemarle County likely will be eliminated.
The surcharge through the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority was to fund some of the cost of the bonds to purchase property around Buck Mountain Creek, located near Free Union, to ultimately build a reservoir. The reservoir was never built.
On Tuesday the RWSA board voted to terminate the surcharge. The Charlottesville City Council, the Albemarle Board of Supervisors and the Albemarle County Service Authority board also would need to approve resolutions for the surcharge to be removed.
“We feel that the bonds have been paid off now, and it’s time to terminate the surcharge,” said Bill Mawyer, RWSA’s executive director.
The surcharge was created in 1983 and collected by the city and service authority for each new water service connection in the city and in the urban area of the county, and remitted to RWSA. The fees ranged from about $200 to $43,000.
The property where the reservoir was to be built totals about 1,313 acres and was purchased for $6.65 million. It was later determined that the James spinymussel, a federally listed endangered species, was present in the watershed.
At a prior meeting, RWSA staff said that between fiscal years 1983 and 2018, $3.975 million in revenue was generated, and all of the money was transferred to the RWSA.
Kurt Krueger, RWSA counsel, later clarified that they can’t say when the bonds related to the land purchase were specifically paid.
“The answer after 36 years is, yes, but because the way they were refinanced before [Director of Finance Lonnie Wood] came on board, there’s not a way to trace it,” he said. “We all know that it’s been paid, but we couldn’t say, ‘It was paid on this date or that date.’”
“I’ve wondered about this for a long time,” RWSA board member and county Supervisor Liz Palmer said at Tuesday’s meeting.
In June, RWSA staff said they were going to develop a long-range plan for the property, after a former property owner approached the board to ask if he could buy back land that had been purchased by the RWSA.