Council raises water rate on split vote

Posted April 19, 2017 at 9:18 am

Residents who are currently receiving water, both in the City of Albany and Clinton County, will notice a slight increase in water rates with the May billing period. Albany City Council, at a special call meeting last Tuesday afternoon, April 11, approved–on a split vote–second and final reading of an ordinance adjusting rates for all water customers, including residential and industrial.

The rate increase will be minimal, at 10 cents per day, or approximately $3 per month for residential customers.

Four council members were on hand last week for the second ordinance reading, which became effective after this week’s newspaper publication.

The motion to adjust the rates was made by councilman Leland Hicks and was seconded by councilman Carl Ferguson. Council members Frankie Stockton and Tonya Thrasher voted no, with council members Steve Lawson and Tony Delk being absent.

Albany Mayor Nicky Smith again broke the tie with a yes vote, meaning the ordinance was approved 3-2, as was the case on first reading.

During the council’s regular meeting April 4, the council approved first reading with Hicks and Ferguson making the motion and second at that meeting as well. Councilman Stockton and Delk voted no, and with council members Lawson and Thrasher being absent, the mayor also broke that tie with a yes vote.

City officials cited the need for the increase due to higher costs of producing and treating water, including chemicals for clean water treatment and other costs.

Mayor Smith also noted that the city had not adjusted rates in the past seven years, and even with the $3 per month increase, Albany’s rates were still lower than most surrounding cities. He also said in neighboring Cumberland County, which the local system also sells water to, charges $19 minimum for city customers and $29 for county residents.

The ordinance also increases the cost-of-living rates from 1.5 to 2.5 percent annually to help offset rising costs associated with producing and supplying water to customers.

The ordinance calls for the new rates to commence with the billing period corresponding to the month of May 2017.

The new rates, for example, will see city residents on 3/4 inch lines pay for the first 2,000 gallons a $13.50 minimum, with those using over 50,000 gallons, the bill would increase $2.12 per 1,000 gallons over. County minimum rates for the first 2,000 gallons would be $19.39 with a 2.32 extra charge for each 1,000 gallon over 50,000.

Industrial rates will be $2,100 minimum bill for the first 600,000 and $1.75 per 1,000 gallons over 600,000.

Meter installation costs, delinquent bill fees, etc. are also dealt with in the ordinance.

A summary of the water rate ordinance can be found on the legal page of this week’s edition, and the full text of the ordinance is available for public review at Albany City Hall during normal business hours.