The Homer City Council voted to increase water rates starting in April.

During a public hearing before the February meeting, Bill Powell, of the Georgia Rural Water Authority, explained the new rating system. All customers will have a base charge so they will have continued access to water. That charge will remain at $14. Under the new rate schedule, the customer who uses 3,000 a month will see an increase of $5 a month. The rate goes from $14 to $19.

As customers buy more water the rate per gallon decreases. For instance, a customer who uses 10,000 will pay $38 under the new rates, while they presently pay $48.00 for 10,000 gallons of water.

While many of the water customers are residential users, one of the biggest customers is the Banks County School System.

Powell said, “We are trying to make it fair and equitable for all users.”

Powell also pointed out that the city has not raised water rates much over the years, so the new rate scale is desperately needed. He also pointed out that this increase will put the city in compliance with the Water Stewardship Act.

Powell explained that the city has borrowed money for water system improvements, and they are using reserve funds until revenues begin to come in. Once this rate system has been in place for a year, this councilmembers will revisit the rates.

“We can’t keep using reserves to balance the budget,” Powell continued.

Mayor Doug Cheek noted that the city rates are much cheaper than the water rates charged by the county.

UPDATE ON WELL

In other water department business, the council got an update on the Evans Street well. It is up and running after it was damaged by a recent thunderstorm. Mayor Cheek reported that the council is looking at another site for a new well. A geologist will be coming out to check a test well, and give them the go ahead.

“This will greatly reduce the cost we pay for county water,” Cheek said.

The council also voted to hire Point to Point from McDonough, to take care of two underground fuel storage tanks at the old shop. The council members looked at three bids and this company had the lowest bid of $24,705.

The council also voted to make a modification to the GEFA loan to extend the payment time to see what other water projects are needed in the city.

The council also began to talk about potential projects for the next SPLOST funds; they will discuss this at the next work session.

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