New Castle County is using an acronym that might be new to many people – EDU, or equivalent dwelling unit – to calculate a new fee in its sewer bill.
“The new fee is is in addition to consumption charges,” the county said in a just-mailed letter accompanying the bill, “and is expected to help defray the capital costs of the county’s investments in its systemwide wastewater infrastructure.”
The bill also has a typo that alarmed many residents, according to a discussion on the county’s Facebook page.
“New Castle County would like to clarify that residential sewer customers are not billed quarterly and are only billed once annually and that the phrase ‘QUARTER 1’ was erroneously included in the title of your 2022 annual sewer bill.” the county wrote. “If residential sewer customers have any further questions or concerns about their annual sewer bill, they can contact the Office of Finance at (302) 395-5340 or email email@example.com.
More than half of the county’s letter offers a way to waive the charge, if it’s been improperly assessed.
“The new fee is expected to produce more than $7 million in revenue each year,” Delaware Public Media reported when it was unanimously passed by County Council last year. That’s about $24 per residential household, it said.
“The fee is based on the size of the water meter(s) associated with each parcel,” the letter says, with meters going from a half-inch to 10 inches and the charge going from $25 to $11,500 per year.
The EDU value is set at .25 for the smallest meters (for pipes a half or 5/8 of an inch, covering most residences for $25 a year), 2.5 for 1-inch meters (generating a $250 fee) and so on. (Remember your geometry: a round pipe that’s twice the diameter can carry for more than twice the water.)
However, the charge is waived “for meters associated with fire sprinkler or other fire suppression systems, private fire hydrants and irrigation systems.”
That sentence leads into the county’s documentation process for requesting a refund.
One bullet point covers disputes over meter sizes. A second bullet point addresses “adjustment requests” to the fee because the meter “represents consumption that does not discharge into the county’s wastewater or stormwater system,” such as the aforementioned sprinklers, fire suppression and irrigation, plus meters used exclusively to fill swimming pools.
The bill itself notes how the charge, which became effective on July 1, is assessed for people who bought their homes last year and how residents who are 65 or older or are disabled are eligible for future tax and sewer reductions.
The sewer bill is due Feb. 28.
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