Due to an expected budget shortfall, the Middlesex Water Authority is proposing a minimum monthly water rate increase of $10. The monthly minimum rate currently is $45 for up to 3,000 gallons, then a penny a gallon for anything over and above that amount. Under the proposal, the minimum rate would rise to $55 and the minimum usage would also rise, to 4,000 gallons per month. The one cent per gallon charge for going over the minimum would remain unchanged. The charge for a vacant lot would increase from $20 to $25 per month, and the connection fee for a residential property would rise from $10,000 to $12,000. A public hearing on the proposal is set for 6pm on Wednesday, January 17th at the Middlesex County Historic Courthouse in Saluda. If the rate increase is passed, it would take effect on February 1st.