Moultrie Observer


September 12, 2012

City considers rate hike

MOULTRIE — On the same day it held two public hearings about increasing tax revenue, the Moultrie City Council passed first and second readings of an ordinance to increase water, sewer and gas rates for city customers.

The increases are small and will likely result in only a few dollars a month more for residential customers, according to the rate schedule proposed at last Tuesday’s city council meeting.

A final vote is expected at the Sept. 18 council meeting, which is also the date when the council is expected to approve its budget for the upcoming year and to vote on whether to hold millage rates the same as last year. The millage rates have become an issue because several properties in the city have increased dramatically in value according to tax assessments earlier this year. That means holding the same millage rate will result in higher taxes for those property owners and higher overall tax revenue for the city.

City Manager Mike Scott emphasized that the fee scheduled acted on Tuesday was a draft, and some details might change before final approval.

Under the proposal, water and sewer rate increases would be staggered, with an increase in different rates set every six months from Oct. 1, 2012, through Jan. 1, 2014:

• Beginning Oct. 1, the minimum fees for water and sewer would each increase from $19 per month to $19.50 per month. That covers water and sewer use up to 2,000 gallons.

• In June 2013, the city would increase the rate for water and sewer use beyond the initial 2,000 gallons. The water rate is currently $2.22 for each 1,000 gallons beyond the minimum; in June, that would rise to $2.28. The sewer rate is currently $2.30 for each 1,000 gallons beyond the minimum; in June, that would rise to $2.36.

• On Jan. 1, 2014, the minimum rate would increase again, going to $20 each for water and sewer use up to 2,000 gallons.

Other water and sewer rates would be unchanged.

Natural gas customers would also see slight increases due to distribution expenses under the proposed fee schedule.

For those on a firm rate schedule, fees for the first 25 thousand cubic feet (MCF) would rise from $3.35 per MCF to $3.45. Fees for higher usage would be unchanged.

For those on an interruptible fee schedule, rates will be unchanged up to 350 MCF. From 351 to 3,500 MCF, the rate would increase from $1.50 per MCF to $1.65. Beyond 3,500 MCF, the rate would increase from $0.45 per MCF to $0.60.

Other gas fees would not change.

Electricity customers will not see a rate change under the proposal, unless they have a security light. The security light fee would increase by $1 for each 175-watt equivalent.

Revenues from water and sewer fees, gas fees and electricity fees are kept in separate funds from the general fund. Expenditures from each of those funds cover operating expenses for their respective infrastructures.

Including the rate changes proposed Tuesday, the city has budgeted for a significant increase in revenues for its electric fund, but slight decreases in revenues for the water/sewer and gas funds.

The electric fund was budgeted in 2011-2012 to bring in $19.7 million; the city estimates it actually brought in $20.9 million; and the 2012-13 budget calls for revenues of $23.2 million.

The water/sewer fund was budgeted in 2011-12 for revenues of $5.7 million, but the city estimates it actually brought in $4.94 million. The 2012-13 budget calls for $5.68 million in revenue (almost exactly $20,000 less than budgeted in the current year).

The natural gas fund was budgeted for $3.03 million in revenues in 2011-12. The city estimates it brought in $2.76 million. The 2012-13 budget calls for $2.39 million in revenue.


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