Senoia's water, sewer rates up

The 2013 city budget proposed for Senoia does not require an increase in the property tax millage rate, but water and sewer rates must be increased to fully fund the operating costs of the systems.
A proposed 2013 budget of $4,045,600 was presented at Monday’s meeting of the Senoia Mayor and City Council. The proposed budget represents a decrease of .23 percent from the 2012 budget.
The proposed FY 2013 does not include the hiring of any new employees. The city expects another $500,000 in capital reserve from Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax and Development Impact Fees.
The 2013 budget is allocated as follows: General Fund - $2,291,800; Water - $859,000; Sewer - $660,800; Sanitation: $214,000.
According to budget documents prepared by City Administrator Richard Ferry, the proposed budget does not require an increase in the millage rate. The 2013 millage is proposed to remain unchanged at 5.99 percent.
However, an increase in the water and sewer rates will be necessary to cover operation and maintenance expenses and debt service.
An expected decrease in residential and commercial growth requires the increase in water and sewer rates, officials said. According to budget documents presented Monday, the city’s water and sewer enterprise funds are supplemented by capital recovery fees from new construction. The city’s Development Impact Fee Program is funded by charges on new construction.

The supply of buildable lots is diminishing in Senoia subdivisions, making it imperative the city ensures that development fees that paid for operation and maintenance in the water and sewer system are replaced by user fees, it was noted.

The FY 2011 audit proved that the Sewer Enterprise Fund was not operating at a level that allows it to pay for itself. For the past several years, user fees had to be coupled with Capital Recovery Fees to cover the operation, maintenance and debt service on the system.

The city’s bond agreement with U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development requires that the system is self sufficient and maintains a rate that collects 110 percent of its costs. In 2011, the system lost more than $65,000. In 2012, the city has been working with Turnipseed Engineers to develop a fee structure that meets state Environmental Protection Division and USDA guidelines.

Proposed at Monday’s meeting were water and sewer rate increases on a tiered system, based on usage. As proposed, residential water rates would rise by 10 percent, residential sewer rates by 21 percent.

The proposed 2013 budget and water and sewer rate increases will be the subject of a public hearing to be held next Monday, Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. at the Senoia Municipal Court Building at 505 Howard Road. Following the public hearing a first hearing of the proposals will be voted on by the Mayor and Council.

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