Water Authority approves resolution seeking rate increase

CONYERS -- The Rockdale Water and Sewerage Authority has approved a resolution requesting that the Board of Commissioners implement a water rate increase.

The Authority approved the resolution at its April 4 meeting. The resolution calls for the rate increase be implemented by June 1.

The rate increase was recommended in a study conducted by Raftelis Financial Consultants, which found that Rockdale Water Resources will need to generate more revenue from rates in order to cover future debt service and maintain the system. Of RWR's annual budget of $25 million, the largest portion -- $9 million -- goes to pay debt service on the system's bond debt.

In addition, the resolution points out that the current rates do not generate enough funding to make needed additions to the water and sewage treatment system, including a southside water treatment plant that will be required by the state Environmental Protection Division, as well as maintenance work on the county's water lines, drinking water reservoir and intake on Big Haynes Creek.

The resolution states that the Authority balanced affordability against the needs of the water system in making the request for a rate increase.

The Authority has conducted a series of 11 public meetings for the past couple of months in an effort to educate water customers on the status of the water system and the need for a rate increase.

The Authority is asking commissioners to approve a rate increase implemented over a three-year period. RWR has not had a rate increase in 10 years.

For 2013 RWR is proposing a 5.8 percent increase in water rates for an average customer using 6,000 gallons per month; an increase of 9.5 percent is proposed for sewer rates, for a combined rate increase of 7.8 percent. In 2014 water rates for the same customer would increase 2.8 percent and sewer rates 9.9 percent. For 2015, rates would remain flat for water and increase 10.3 percent for sewer.

In addition, a new tier of water usage would be added, creating four tiers of consumption: zero to 3,000 gallons; 3,000 to 7,000 gallons; 7,000 to 12,000 gallons; and more than 12,000 gallons.