Florala residents see $5 water rate increase

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Florala residents will see a $5 across-the-board increase on their April water bills.

Utility board chairman Marvin Williford said Monday the increase was implemented after much debate and study.

Previous discussions had placed the increase at $11 per customer, so “it wasn’t as bad as we thought it was going to be,” Williford said.

“(The rates are) still lower than others around, including Lockhart,” he said.

The $5 per customer increase is expected to generate an additional $4,000 per month in revenue, which will be used to “replenish the board’s construction fund,” Williford said.

“We need $40,000 annually to match grants to improve this city,” he said. “This was the only way we could do that.”

The increase comes after board members agreed to undertake the $460,000 “Main Street Project,” which is to replace the water and sewerage down Fifth Avenue from the water tower north to the Mastar Building.

The nearly $500,000 out-of-pocket project cost will exhaust the board’s construction fund.

Board members James Stone and Robert Williamson voted no on the increase.

“I just don’t think the timing is good with the economy the way it is,” Williamson said.

The new residential water rates are as follows:

$15 flat rate for the first 3,000 gallons of water used. Then,

an additional $0.40 per hundred gallons or $4 per thousand gallons up to 10,000 gallons; Then,

an additional $0.50 per hundred gallons or $5 per thousand gallons over 10,000 gallons.

Commercial users will also see a $5 increase in their bill.

In other business, discussion was tabled on a proposal to implement a 3 percent municipal gross tax on all utility board customers. Reports indicate the proposed tax is in response to a profit sharing plan submitted to the board by Councilwoman Hazel Lee in December that would allow the city to receive a minimum of 3 percent of board’s annual revenue.