OAK ORCHARD, DE – Almost 100 residents came to Oak Orchard’s American Legion hall for the Delaware Public Service Commission’s final public comment hearing on Tidewater Environmental Services proposed rate hike. Many residents focused their comments on the disparity between rates paid by Milton residents versus rates paid elsewhere in Sussex County.
“A rate increase of this magnitude, 90.6 percent, in my opinion, is unconscionable in this economic climate,” said Bay Pointe resident Barry Becker. “It seems like a game is being played here, and it stinks.”
Many residents pointed out the large disparity in their wastewater rates compared to Milton customers. Outside Milton nearly all customers currently pay twice the rate Milton residents pay. If the full proposed rate is approved, monthly bills will increase to as much as $178.
“If these rates go through, we’re going to pay more for wastewater than property tax,” said Bayfront resident Bill Jenkins. “That’s just illogical.”
Becker said non-Milton residents are footing the bill for Tidewater’s poor decisions.
“Everybody in this room is being asked to subsidize a poor contract that was established between TESI and Milton,” he said. “That’s just not fair.”
Bay Pointe resident Dennis Morris said grouping Milton with the other communities is apples and oranges. At the Nov. 8 public comment session in Milton, PSC Executive Director Bill O’Brien said not including Milton in the application would be discriminatory. However, many non-Milton customers counter the current rates are already discriminatory.
“They are discriminating against non-Milton customers by requiring them to cover the shortfall created by artificially low Milton rates,” Jenkins said.
Representatives of Tidewater refused to provide comment to the Cape Gazette
photo courtesy of the Cape Gazette