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May 7, 2008

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PO Box 908
33 Lee Street
Jefferson, Georgia 30549


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City Considering Rate Hikes For Garbage, Water, Sewerage
Increases in the prices charged for garbage pickup and water and sewer services will be on the agenda for the Commerce City Council Monday night.
The council will meet at 6:30 p.m. in the Commerce Room of the Commerce Civic Center.
The proposal is to increase the cost of garbage service $1 per month to cover higher charges to the city from Waste Management.
Last year, Waste Management hiked the city’s per-container charge by $1.16 per month; it added 45 cents more recently based on a contract that allows annual increases determined by a cost-of-living index.
Last September, the city increased its rate by 50 cents to cover half of the first rate hike. City Manager Clarence Bryant said he will recommend another $1 increase Monday night to cover most of the rest of the city’s cost. Currently, he said, the city collects $1.01 less for each residential container than it pays Waste Management.
The current rate is $13.50 per month for residential customers. The new rate, if approved, would be $14.50.
According to Bryant, Waste Management has also asked for another $1 per container fee because of fuel prices. That didn’t sit well with at least one council member.
“If they want that, we’ll probably just have to re-bid the whole thing. There’s nothing in our contract about fuel prices,” said Councilman Bob Sosebee.
The council will also consider an increase of the residential water rate of 15 cents per 1,000 gallons and a sewer cost increase of 50 cents per 1,000 gallons, both to help fund the city’s water and sewerage debt service.
If the increases are designed as discussed at the city’s recent retreat, neither increase will affect the minimum bills of low-end users.
The water rate increase amounts to 3.8 percent, while the sewer increase comes to 11.7 percent.
The council will also be asked to approve about $180,000 in capital purchases that are being moved from the upcoming budget to the current budget to help balance the new budget. The biggest item is a new brush truck for the Public Works Department. Its $102,000 cost will be spread over several years via a lease-purchase agreement.
The council will also vote on a $778,250 budget amendment designed to upgrade the city’s retirement plan so city employees will earn retirement pay equal to 1.5 percent of their pay per year of service instead of the current 1.25 percent. Eventually, the council would like to raise that to two percent. Two-thirds of the cost will come from reserves held for Commerce by the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia, with the remainder coming out of the General Fund, according to Bryant.
Other Business
Also Monday night, the council will consider:
•a rezoning request from Dr. James Bouchard to change 17 acres from AF (agriculture-farm) to C-2 (commercial) for the development of a medical complex on Maysville Road.
•a request for a variance in the city’s sign ordinance that would allow Walgreens two signs and twice as much square footage as allowed under the ordinance.
•an amendment to the zoning ordinance to increase the allowed height of front-yard fences or walls from three feet to four feet.
•a change in the personnel policy to cap excess vacation days.
•an “economic development services agreement” with Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce by which the city would pay $10,000 a year to the chamber’s Economic Development Fund. All municipalities in the county face similar requests.


P.O. Box 908 - 33 Lee Street
Jefferson, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233 Fax: (706) 367-8056
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