RWR plans informational meeting on proposed rate increase

CONYERS -- Rockdale Water Resources will hold a public meeting Thursday to update residents on proposed water and sewer rate increases and why they are recommended by the department.

The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. at the J.P. Carr Community Center. Topics to be covered include:

-- What are the utility system's sustainability requirements?

-- How will the additional revenue be used?

-- What is the financial impact on the average homeowner?

-- What consideration is being given to low-income customers?

The meeting is part of a campaign by RWR to educate customers about the proposed rate increase and define what is needed to keep the water system operating efficiently and meet future demands.

The educational campaign, which will be carried out in conjunction with the Rockdale Water and Sewerage Authority, will include public presentations to community groups, a mailout to water customers, and "infomercials" that will air on Channel 23.

A rate study by Raftelis Financial Consultants, completed in 2012, showed that RWR will need to increase water and sewer rates in order to keep up with operating costs and maintain the system.

The study showed that RWR's current rates will not generate enough revenue this year to reinvest in the system to maintain current service levels, avoid depleting reserves and meet 2014 debt service requirements. In addition, the current rate structure does not encourage water conservation, and sewer rate increases are needed to make the sewer system more self-sufficient.

Raftelis recommended RWR adjust rates by increasing the number of rate tiers from three to four and reducing the usage cutoffs between tiers. These changes would increase revenues while encouraging water conservation, according to the study. In addition, the study recommended increasing water rates for non-residential customers and increasing sewer rates by 15 percent per year for three years as an initial step to making the sewer system self-supporting.

Under the recommended changes, an average residential water customer using 6,000 gallons per month would see a rate increase of 5.8 percent in 2013, or $1.95 on a $33.65 bill. An average monthly sewer charge would increase 9.5 percent, from $39.23 per month to $42.95.