Jemison Council changes water/sewer rates

Published 3:40 pm Monday, October 5, 2020

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By JOYANNA LOVE/ Managing Editor

The Jemison City Council approved an increase in usage rates for water and sewer during a voting session on Oct. 5.

Previously, the most recent rate change for the city was in 2018. Increases were based on a financial review by Walter Lewis of Piper Sandler.

Starting in November, for bills that will be issued in December, water rates for customers inside the city will change to $18 plus tax for the first 1,000 gallons and $7.95 plus tax per additional 1,000 gallons. Previously, rates had been $15.80 for the first 2,000 gallons and $.00675 per gallon after that.

The sewer rate for customers inside the city limits is changing from $12 for the first 2,000 gallons to $15 for the first 1,000 gallons consumed and $5.30 per additional 1,000 gallons.

Rates have also gone up for those who live outside the city limits but use Jemison services.

Water will now be $23 for the first $1,000 and $7.95 per additional 1,000 gallons. Sewer will be $18 dollars for the first $1,000 gallons and $5.90 per additional 1,000 gallons. Those who only use sewer services will be charged the rate for those living within the city limits.

The rate for commercial customers is changing to $20 dollars for the first 1,000 gallons and $8.25 per additional 1,000 of water. Sewer rates have also increased with those inside the city and those outside the city limits that use Jemison services paying different rates.

Schools will be charged $50 for the first 1,000 gallons consumed for sewer and $14 per additional 1,000 gallons.

The ordinance approved by the Council also implements a 5.5% increase for residential and commercial customers on Oct. 1 each year from 2021-2025.

The Council suspended its rules to approve the first and second reading of the ordinance in the same meeting.

Mayor Eddie Reed said Lewis has helped the city on water/sewer finances for several years.

“This is something that we have to do to keep up with the cost,” Reed said. “We cannot keep operating the water (department) in the red.”

Prior to the voting session, Lewis presented a plan to the Council to have the water and sewer become self-sustaining. This includes having the funds to pay off debt the city had incurred for required sewer improvements but had kept in the city’s main budget. He also recommended that the Council adopt a policy to only budget 90% or so of expected revenue to create a fund balance reserve for future needs.

Having such plans in place will help the city’s credit rating with Standard & Poor’s, he said, which could be beneficial if future if the city needs to borrow money for future improvements.

The Council has been moving debt to the correct fund during the budget process. Approving the 2021 fiscal year budget  was tabled so updated revenue numbers could be added for the water/ sewer budget following passage of the ordinance.

Also during the meeting, the Council, at the recommendation of Reed, approved holding interviews for five people from District 3 who have expressed interest in filling the seat vacated by the death of Robert Morris.