PORTERDALE -- The City Council approved the first and second readings of an ordinance to increase water and sewer rates to residents and businesses at a called meeting Thursday night, passing along an increase from the Newton County Water and Sewer Authority.
Under the ordinance change, which was recommended to the council by City Manager Bob Thomson, 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 by 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.
"That's what we are proposing and that's what we need, actually," said Thomson in a work session discussion of the rates prior to the called meeting.
Councilwoman Linda Finger objected to the town having to take on an increase from the county water provider.
"I don't know what the county's reason is for this, but I think they should consider the economy," she said.
Finger added that she would not support the increase.
"I've never voted for an increase,' she said. "I'm not going to vote for this. I think it's ridiculous."
Councilman Robert Foxworth said he was not happy about the increase, but accepted it as part of operating the water system.
"I don't like the increase any more than anyone else, but I understand what you have to do to maintain and keep going," Foxworth said.
The cities of Covington and Oxford have also voted to pass along the county's water rate increase to customers. The Covington City Council voted earlier this month to postpone implementation of the water rate increase until October in order to help residents get through the summer months.
If the Porterdale council approves the third and final reading of the ordinance at the June regular meeting, the rate increases will take effect in the July billing cycle.
The council also approved a resolution that would allow the council to change water and sewer rates by resolution in the future rather than by ordinance amendment.