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Roswell water rate fees to increase in 2015
by James Swift
September 03, 2014 10:57 AM | 2868 views | 1 1 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Residents who get their water services through the city of Roswell can expect to pay more next year. Last week, the city council voted unanimously to approve an 8 percent water rate increase, which will take effect January.

City Director of Finance Keith Lee said the average Roswell customer can anticipate a $1.84 per month increase in 2015, followed by a “less than 40 cents per month” increase from 2016 to 2019. The city’s water system serves a little over 14,000 people. Usage fees were last adjusted in 2008.

Lee expects “significant revenues” will cover the costs of systems operations and debt services related to the new water treatment plant. However, he also pinpointed several items that could “impact the sustainability of the fund” — among them, rising salary and benefits costs and inflationary increases for utilities and other supplies.

“The city has a capital improvement plan that’s about $500,000 a year for ongoing maintenance of our distribution system that we need to continually fund,” Lee said. “It’s just like being at home — our grocery bills go up, our costs of materials and supplies goes up.”

Water fund revenue for the 2015 fiscal year is projected to be $3.6 million, with roughly $3 million in operating costs. Revenue is expected to steadily increase to $3.7 million in 2019, with operating costs fluctuating from $2.7 million in 2016 to $2.8 million five years from now.

“We’ve created a system in which the revenues should grow at the same pace as our expenditures,” he said.

Lee said the city has a tiered conservation system in place. “For the first 10,000 gallons, each thousand gallons is ‘x’ amount of dollars,” he explained. “But anything between 10,000 and 20,000 gallons is ‘2x’ dollars.”

The function, he said, was to encourage residents to refrain from using water in “non-required fashions.” The measure, Lee added, was a mandate from the Atlanta Regional Commission.

With the fee increase, a Roswell customer billed for 7,000 gallons would pay about $40 a month next year. Today, a Fulton County customer using the same amount is charged less than $25.

“In Fulton County, they certainly have a lot more customers than we do, but in many instances there are people who have more customers than they have and the rates are higher,” Lee said. “Generally, our rates are very competitive in the market, compared to surrounding counties.”

Lee said 86 percent of Roswell water customers use less than 7,000 gallons per month. An estimated 5 percent of customers use in excess of 10,000 gallons monthly.

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