Increase for water, sewer moves ahead

COVINGTON -- The City Council approved the first reading of an amended ordinance that would increase water and sewer rates Monday night.

If the second reading of the ordinance is approved, the minimum charge for up to the first 3,000 gallons of water used would increase from $13.80 to $15.18. For additional usage of 3,001 to 50,000 gallons of water, the cost will increase by 44 cents per 1,000 gallons, to $4.84 cents from the current $4.40 per 1,000 gallons. For usage above 50,000 gallons, the charge will increase by 46 cents per 1,000 gallons, to $5.04, up from $4.58 per 1,000 gallons.

In addition, the charge for sanitary sewer service would be $6 per 1,000 gallons. The city charges 110 percent of the water rate for sewer service. The new charge will boost revenues, which have been lagging.

According to Public Works Director Billy Bouchillon, taking into account a proposed 10 percent increase in wholesale water costs by Newton County, the increasing cost of operations and a decline in water and sewer tap fee revenues, the city would have lost an estimated $2 million in the coming budget year. With the changes, the city still stands to lose an estimated $750,000, he said.

City officials increased rates last year as well, citing the county's hike in the wholesale cost.

The vote to approve the rate increase was 4 -1, with Councilwoman Hawnethia Williams opposed. The final reading is slated to take place at the council's June 7 meeting.