County commissioners voted to approve a 3-percent increase at the board’s regular meeting Tuesday after it was recommended by the County Water Committee.
Utility Director Steve Hulsey told the board during its caucus session that the increase is a response to rising costs for fuel and other supplies. There’s also a need to build up the water department’s renewal and extension fund for capital projects.
“We need to be able to put money back into that in order to keep us afloat,” Hulsey said. “Mainly though, this increase is paying for our costs that we incur on a regular basis.”
The new rates will go into effect April 1, raising the average family’s bill 73 cents to $26.10 a month from $25.37 a month.
Hulsey said they have seen a decrease in usage and total customers in recent years.
According to Hulsey, an average family of four who used approximately 8,000 gallons of water a month as recently as five years ago now uses only 5,000 gallons a month.
He also said they have about 150 fewer customers than this time last year.
“Everybody is conserving and doing what they can,” Hulsey said. “And we appreciate that. It helps us from putting on more restrictions during times of drought.”
The first county water rate increase in two years, the hike is expected to bring in an extra $135,000 through the end of this year and $175,000 over a 12-month period.
Capital spending in the water department’s 2013 budget, which also was approved at Tuesday’s meeting, includes technology updates, new vehicles and $2.3 million in projects.
“Right now, an investment into the (water system) structure will mean we won’t have to have as many rate increases as we have,” Hulsey said, adding that rates have gone up at least every two years since 2005.
In other discussion, Commissioner Rhonda Wallace spoke about a meeting between city and county leaders as well as Rome and Floyd school representatives to discuss SPLOST votes on the November ballot.
She said all four entities wanted to work together to get the two 1-cent special purpose, local option sales tax packages — one for the schools and one for the governments — in place in time for the November general election.
Rome and Floyd County governments will now put together a SPLOST citizen committee that will look at projects to be funded by the new 1-cent special purpose, local option sales tax.
Anyone who would like to serve on the citizen committee is asked to contact County Clerk Kathy Arp at 706-378-2001 or email her at email@example.com.
The 2009 SPLOST for Rome and Floyd County ends on June 30. A proposed $32.4 million SPLOST to extend it was rejected by voters last March.