City to hold vote to raise water and sewer rates
Due to a lack of water use by City of Aiken residents following last year's rainy summer, Aiken City Council will hold the first reading of an ordinance to adjust water and sewer rates on Monday.
Water and sewer rates were a highlighted topic during Council's Horizons Retreat last week. City staff reported to Council that due to a last summer's rain, and a lack of the same now, the City's water and sewer account revenues are projected to be 10 percent less than budgeted.
The City had budgeted for residents to use the typical amount of water based on 2012; but because of the amount of rain, residents did not consume as much water as the City initially expected – likely due to less lawn watering and the like. Therefore, the City's revenues are projected less than in past years.
If a household in past years paid an average monthly rate of about $45, due to excess rain, the monthly bill may have gone down to about $40 – less than the City expected to make. If rates are raised by 10 percent, this means the average monthly bill will be about $45, would increase by $4.50 more.
Water and sewer revenues help fund projects under the utility budget. Expenses include the Silver Bluff water treatment plant and the replacement of water meters.
Over the years, according to City Manager Richard Pearce, the City's “pay as we go” approach to utility projects and with one-cent Capital Project Sales Tax collections have saved residents thousands of taxpayer dollars and have kept the City's rate the second lowest in the state. The lowest in the state is Myrtle Beach.
In a memo to Pearce from Director of Finance Kim Abney, Abney states the City needed an 8 percent funding increase for water consumption last year to fund depreciation for the system at $1.2 million. But for the current year, Abney said she expects a shortfall of about $700,000.
Abney said she understands a 10 percent increase could be hard for the customers.
In other business, Council will consider the adoption of its goals for the 2014-2015 year and hear a presentation on the use of City funds for the Aiken, Barnwell, Bamberg and Edgefield Library system.
The meeting will be held on Monday at 7 p.m. on the second floor in Council Chambers in the Municipal Building, located at 214 Park Ave.
Maayan Schechter is the city beat reporter with Aiken Standard.