Plan Would Raise Business Utility Bills, Lower Those for Small Households
The Powder Springs City Council is set to vote Monday on a restructuring method that would stop the city from losing $30,000 monthly following Cobb's new rates.
With Cobb’s higher utility rates taking effect at the start of January, Powder Springs lost $30,000 last month and is set to continue to lose that amount monthly because its own rates to city customers haven’t caught up.
The City Council will vote on a new rate structure for water and sewer Monday that officials believe will fix that problem, as well as create a fairer balance between what residents and businesses pay.
Further, the new rates would comply with Georgia’s Water Stewardship Act, which encourages water conservation through lower rates for lower usage and higher rates through higher usage. This means that smaller households will see a decrease in their water bills, while larger ones will see an increase.
This is the same plan the council discussed at a January work session.
It would incorporate a Residential Equivalent Unit (REU) system for businesses, schools and other facilities different from houses—similar to the Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU) in the recently adopted stormwater fee. The difference is the ERUs are based on a businesses square footage; the methodology behind REUs varies from business to business.
For example, a nursing home would be based on the number of beds and a restaurant by the number of seats.
For the most part, the restructuring would result in higher bills for businesses but would prevent average homeowners from having to “subsidize” the increasing costs, Bill Powell with the Georgia Rural Water Association told the council at Wednesday’s work session.
“Somebody’s got to pay for it,” he said of the $5,167,500 needed by the city for the water and sewer utilities. The plan would generate an estimated $5,188,500 in revenue.
Council members showed hesitations, with Rosalyn Neal saying that the rates might “run these people out of business,” and Al Thurman saying such actions are “feeing people to death.”
They asked Powell what happens to a place like a restaurant that has unused seating. Powell suggested that since it isn’t being used, take it out.
He said he was once working in a city with a busy restaurant that would see its utility bill tripled because of the restructuring. Once the math was done, the owner would have to raise the price of tea only 5 cents to catch up.
Councilman Chris Wizner noted how where he works, the Powder Springs Medical Center, would see its price doubled.
Below is what the proposed structuring looks like. It includes the six-tiered rates for water that goes up the more that is used. The city is now on a three-tiered system.
The base charge, debt service, and admin charge are accumulated before any usage.
To figure how much you’d be paying for water or sewer, you’d match the number of gallons you use with the appropriate decimal and multiply that by the number of gallons. An example is given below the rate schedules.
- Base charged: $4.70 (Facilities other than houses would multiply their number of REUs to figure their base charge)
- Debt service: $0.46
- Admin charge: $2
- 1-2,000 gallons: .0045
- 2,001-5,000: .00475
- 5,001-10,000: .005
- 10,001-20,000: .00525
- 20,001-50,000: .0055
- 50,000+: .00575
- Base charge: $6.82
- Debt service: $0.59
- 1-2,000 gallons: .00653
- 2,001-5,000: .00689
- 5,001+: .00725
Examples, based on 4,200 gallons of monthly usage for a house
- Water: $4.70 + $0.46 + $2 + $9 (2,000 gallons x .0045) + $10.45 (remaining 2,200 gallons x .00475) = $26.61
- Sewer: $6.82 + $0.59 + $13.05 (2,000 gallons x .00653) + $15.15 (remaining 2,200 gallons x .00689) = $35.61 (so your total bill for water and sewer would be $62.21)
Do you think the fee restructuring is fair? Tell us in the comments.
Also on Wednesday:
- The city’s annual audit showed that everything in the books was in line.
- Officials decided to postpone moving forward with the demolition of what has been called “the worst property in the city” because the demolition’s costs are still being compiled.
- Officials discussed charging an annual $100 fee to alcohol wholesalers bringing alcohol into the city—a move the council will vote on Monday.
- The council went into an executive session to discuss personnel.