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May 14, 2008

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PO Box 908
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Jefferson, Georgia 30549


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Council Hikes Garbage, Water And Sewer Rates
The cost of three utility services in Commerce went up Monday night.
The Commerce City Council voted to increase its rate for garbage collection from $13.50 per month to $14 for residential service, passing along increases charged it by Waste Management.
Small commercial accounts that use the same roll-away containers will find their rate pushed to $18.75, while the few nonresident residential customers will pay $18.50 a month.
The council also raised water and sewer rates.
The cost per 1,000 gallons for water was increased from $3.85 to $4 for residents, and from $5.80 to $6 for nonresidents.
For sewerage, the cost per 1,000 gallons went up 50 cents, from $4.75 to $5.25 for residents and from $7.90 to $8.40 for those outside the city.
Neither rate increase will affect those paying the minimum water and sewerage bills.
All of the rate increases passed unanimously.
Retirement Upgrade
The council also voted unanimously to amend its budget by $78,250 to upgrade its employee retirement plan. Employees will now be paid 1.5 percent of their annual salary for each year of service; the previous rate was 1.25. The council will have to approve the official documents for changing the plan at its next meeting.
“That should have been done 10 years ago,” remarked Steve McKown, finance director.
In other business, the council approved a contract with the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce. The city will pay the chamber $10,000, in return for which the chamber will promote the city’s economic development.
The council also approved the acquisition of equipment worth $297,542, some of which will be financed via a lease-purchase. Among the expenditures are $61,720 for the police department, $30,000 for the fire department, $132,000 for the Public Works Department (including a $102,000 “brush truck”), $7,000 for the shop, $3,500 for the library and $63,322 for the Finance Department.
McKown told the council that the city’s operating funds, 10 months into the year, have taken in $700,000 more than has been spent. Overall, thanks to a reimbursement of $300,000 from Jackson County, SPLOST receipts and forfeited drug money, the city is $1.8 million in the black thus far into the fiscal year, said McKown.
Budget Hearing
Mayor Charles L. Hardy Jr. declared a “budget hearing” as McKown passed out copies of the proposed FY 2008-09 budget. No one from the public made a comment. In fact, no one except McKown said anything at all.
The budget, which will be finalized and approved in June and July, calls for $5.9 million in General Fund expenditures, $5.7 million in water and sewerage revenue, $5.2 million in electric revenue and $11.4 million in gas revenue.
The council took no action on the budget, which is the first draft version members have seen. The budget will be discussed at the next work session, and a other public hearings are planned. They will be held Monday, June 2, at 6:00 p.m. during the council’s work session at City Hall and just prior to adoption of the budget a week later at the June 9 council meeting at 6:30 p.m. at the Commerce Civic Center.


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