Covington water rate increase delayed

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

COVINGTON -- The City Council agreed Monday night to postpone a water rate increase until Oct. 1.

The increase was to go into effect on July 1. The council passed the second reading Monday with the amendment that the effective date be delayed by three months.

"We're doing this to try to help everybody through the summer months," said Councilman Chris Smith, who proposed the delay.

The water rate increase will be the second in as many years, and is again due to the county's decision to increase the wholesale water rate, according to city officials. The vote on the first reading was 3 to 3 at the council's May 2 meeting, with Mayor Kim Carter breaking the tie in favor of the increase. Carter said Monday she has since been contacted by General Mills asking for more time before the increase goes into effect. Carter said some local industries do not have the capability of conserving use because water is necessary for production. She said it's only fair that more notice be given, as it was last year.

The city will absorb the increased water cost for the first three months rather than pass it along to consumers, at a cost of $20,000 to $25,000 per month.

On Oct. 1, rates will increase from $15.18 to $16 for the first 3,000 gallons of water used. Usage of 3,001 to 50,000 gallons will increase in cost from $4.84 per 1,000 gallons to $5.15. Usage of over 50,000 gallons will increase from $5.04 per 1,000 gallons to $5.35.

The average residential customer uses about 6,000 gallons per billing cycle, and will see an increase of less than $2 on their bills, according to city officials.