Water Board Discusses Possible Rate Increase

By REBECCA HAZEN
News Editor

The Dade County Water and Sewer Authority board discussed an annual water rate increase during the Tuesday, Dec. 15 meeting.

Water rates would have to increase at the minimum by eight percent in order for the authority to be in compliance with bond ratios.

“We would need $3.6 million to meet our 1.1 bond ratio. An eight percent increase would get us to $3.619 million,” Sherri Walker said.

The average customer in the county uses about 5,000 gallons of water per month. The average residential monthly rate would increase by $2.76. The average commercial monthly increase would be $3.17 and an industrial increase would be $2.10.

“We would be breaking even with that increase,” Walker said.

The board also looked at a 10 percent and a 20 percent possible increase.

“With [10 percent] we would have a little bit of a cushion over the bond ratio,” Sherri said.

Average rate increases with a 10 percent increase would be $3.45 for residential, $3.96 for commercial and $2.62 for industrial.

At last month’s meeting, auditor Barry Huggins with Johnson, Hickey, and Murchinson P.C., said that the ideal coverage ratio to have would be 1.2, which would be about a tenth higher than the required ratio. This would cover both regular and any unexpected expenses. This would be reached with a 20 percent increase.

“That’s a little high. I don’t recommend that we do that all at once,” Walker said. “I’d hate to come on the heels of a 25 percent increase on the base charge and then ask for 20 across the board. I think we should do the eight percent or 10 percent and then revisit it next year.”

The board agreed to discuss it further during another meeting.

The board also heard an update about the property purchase on Slygo Road. According to Sherri Walker, the purchase came in at $45,980.

“The reason why we had to purchase the property was to make our Emergency Community Water Assistant Grant (ECWAG) project a lot less expensive,” Walker said.

Walker explained, “The original project was to bore under the interstate and connect to our pump station. We couldn’t get the easement on that, so we were going to have to go around to Morganville Ridge Road.”

Walker noted that with the purchase of the property, it will be a savings of almost $400,000.

The total cost of the project, minus the $150,000 ECWAG grant, will cost the Water and Sewer Authority $169,423.25.

The board discussed and agreed to ask for SPLOST funds to cover the cost, not including the land purchase.

Elizabeth Zeller presented the monthly financial report. The revenue for the month is $298,638.58. Expenses were $273,816.58, for a profit of $24,822 for the month of November.

During the operations report, Zeller reported that the new SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) computers were put on line. There were 97 lines located, 12 water main leaks repaired and five taps installed.

The next Water and Sewer Authority meeting will be Jan. 26.

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