Potential water rate increase becoming big issue in Hahira - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Potential water rate increase becoming big issue in Hahira

Jonathan Sumner Jonathan Sumner
HAHIRA, GA (WALB) - A proposed increase to the city of Hahira's base water usage rate is causing quite a stir among residents of Hahira.

At the city council meeting on October 2nd, City Manager Jonathan Sumner proposed an additional $7 increase, on top of the $13 increase that council members first proposed at their August work session. He said the $13 increase would allow the city to break even when it comes to the costs of operating and maintaining the city's water and sewer systems, but the additional $7 increase would allow the city to build up money to pay for future water and sewer projects.

He added that he understands both sides of the issue, but the base water usage rate has been almost untouched since 1991 and now the city has no choice but to implement some kind of an increase. 

"If you're holding the same for what you're charging over a 20 year period," said Sumner, "your costs are going to outpace your revenue and that's basically what's happened with our water and sewer fund."

Sumner explained that in recent years the city has been able to offset the costs by charging a tap fee for new homes that connect to the city's water and sewer systems. But with the economy the way that it is, the city is no longer bringing in enough money from the tap fees to offset the costs of operating and maintaining the city's water and sewer systems.

"It certainly has been an issue that has been an issue that has been around for the past 20 years, but for one reason or another councils have made the decision to try and keep the rate as stable as possible," Sumner said.

Sumner also pointed out that even though the increase may be necessary, many residents may struggle to afford the increase and that's why the city has decided to conduct a demographics study ahead of the November council meeting.

"The mayor and council, obviously, want to be very sensitive to the fact that there are individuals who are elderly and on fixed income and we'll be taking a look over the next couple of weeks of what those demographics within the city are," Sumner said.

The council will discuss the potential increase at the November council meeting and possibly again at the December council meeting if necessary, but Sumner said there is no date set yet for when the council may vote on the issue.

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