Town of Cheraw to Increase Water and Sewer Rates in Fiscal Year 2024-2025

The Town of Cheraw will increase water and sewer rates by 10% on July 1st. This rate increase along with past increases are designed to raise funds as the Town of Cheraw makes significant investments in our water and sewer system. Raising rates is an important part of being able to afford a 10 year capital improvement plan which will help provide clean drinking water and waste treatment for the next 40 years.
The Town’s utility system operates as an enterprise system, meaning that revenues collected from our utility system can only be used in the utility system. The Town does not use any local tax dollars to pay for utility services.

The Town of Cheraw’s projected utility income for the upcoming fiscal year is $6.1 million with projected expenses of $5.45 million, leaving the Town of Cheraw a net gain of $650,000. This $650,000 profit is crucial as the Town continues to undertake water/sewer capital projects.

Within the funds collected by our utility system, there are two major expenses - O&M (Operation and Maintenance) which funds the daily operation of the Town’s water plant and wastewater treatment plant. This includes paying salaries for employees, purchasing chemicals, disposing of waste, and many other activities. The second major expense is capital improvements - which is the replacement of large pieces of equipment that have reached the end of their life. These equipment replacement projects are expensive, with even the smallest project running into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Just one of Cheraw’s many ongoing utility projects is the renovation of pump station #1 (pictured). Pump station #1 collects all of the sewer waste from the southern portion of Cheraw, and the pumps have reached the end of their service life and need to be replaced. If these pumps fail, toilets will begin backing up very quickly throughout our utility system. Replacing these pumps is part of a $10,500,000 grant the Town received from the Rural Infrastructure Authority (RIA) to make improvements to our utility system. That is money saved that does not have to be paid by our customers. However, the Town of Cheraw is responsible for $1.3 in matching costs related to the project which has to come from local funds. So in addition to our O&M costs that run the utility system on a daily basis, the Town needs to raise rates to have funding for capital improvements like our RIA grant.

Capital improvements will continue through the end of the decade. Sometimes we can get grants that cover the full cost of projects but other times we must provide local funds for these projects in addition to grants. The Town is in the process of putting together the funding for a new water treatment plant, estimated to cost $36 million dollars. The Town will seek as much grant funding for the project as possible, but a large amount will have to be taken as a low interest loan. Every dollar that the Town can receive as a grant is one less dollar that has to be paid by our customers, which will help keep rates from rising too much in the future. To date the Town of Cheraw has received approximately $19 million dollars in grant funds to help pay for the projected $80 million cost of our capital improvement plan.

To see how the Town of Cheraw’s water and sewer rates compare with other cities - head over to https://ria.sc.gov/loans/rates/ . If you have questions about improvements to Cheraw’s Utility System please contact Town Hall at 843-537-7283.