Porterdale council gives final OK to water rate increase

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

PORTERDALE -- The City Council voted Monday night to increase water and sewer rates as a result of an increase in the wholesale cost of treated water and wastewater from the Newton County Water and Sewer Authority.

The council voted 4-to-1 in favor of the ordinance change calling for the increase, with Councilwoman Linda Finger opposed. Finger said she has never voted for a water rate increase and does not intend to ever do so.

Residential customers will see their rates increase from $6.60 per 1,000 gallons to $6.88, an increase of 28 cents. Minimum water usage is 2,000 gallons for residential customers. Porterdale's water rate increase is 5 cents per gallon greater than the county's rate increase in order to pay for lost and unaccounted for water in the town's water system.

Sewer rates for 1,000 gallons of treated wastewater will increase from $7.27 to $7.57 for residential users. Sewer rates are required to be 110 percent of water rates under the city's loan covenants with the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority. Minimum usage for sewage treatment is 3,000 gallons.

Commercial rates will increase from $7.25 per 1,000 gallons of water to $7.53; and $7.98 per 1,000 gallons of treated wastewater to $8.28. Minimum usage for commercial customers is 2,000 gallons for water and 3,000 gallons for sewer.

The rate increases will take effect in the July billing cycle.

The council also heard the third and final reading of an ordinance change that would allow the city's water and sewer rates to be changed by resolution rather than ordinance change. A change in the ordinance requires three readings and a public hearing prior to the final council vote.

Finger said she thought that the three readings allowed residents an opportunity to speak about a proposed rate change prior to it taking effect. After some discussion, the council agreed to amend the ordinance allowing rate changes by resolution to require a public hearing before the vote.

The council voted 4-1 to allow changes to water and sewer rates by resolution, with Finger opposed.