The evening began with an overview of the city's 2009 audit report as prepared by Loyd Williamson of Williamson and Company CPAs. Operating funds were sufficient, falling into expected ranges under present economical circumstances with no departments exceeding budgeted expenditures.
Utilities, however, were shown to have steadily decreased in revenue over the past several years. The aging infrastructure and cost of mandatory environmental regulations either have or will in the near future incur great expense, necessitating a water rate increase.
Beginning last year, the city has seen losses in their water and sewer departments as City Manager Pat Crook explained with the aid of a presentation on the proposed rates.
"Now we have this situation where expenditures have exceeded revenue and they started doing that during the course of 2009," Crook said. "If the rate stays the same, next year we're looking at expenditures exceeding revenue by more than $400,000. The far right column with the proposed rate would show a net income of $227,000."
The rates must also be presented in a tiered rate structure as is mandated by the state to control water use. Enacted after the severe droughts suffered in recent years, Bartow falls into the Metro-Atlanta Water District. Adairsville has yet to comply with these regulations and failure to update the rate structure can result in the denial of future water permits, denial of future waste water permits and denial of Georgia Environmental Finance Administration loans and grants.
"I've put a lot of thought and calculation into these rates to come up with what was a reasonable amount between bankrupting the system and keeping it maintained properly," Crook said. "With this increasing net loss, we don't need this to lie around long. A good time to have this in place is Jan. 1 ."
The presentation composed by Crook included a slide showing Adairsville's water rate in comparison to numerous surrounding cities and counties. The current rate was the lowest of nearby providers, while the proposed rate will place the city in the middle of the pack.
The proposed water rate for residential accounts within city limits would increase the base rate to $6.90 with the first tier at $3.25 per 1,000 gallons up to 5,000 gallons. The second tier would be $4.10 per 1,000 gallons from 5,001 gallons to 10,000 gallons and the third tier would be set at $6.50 per 1,000 gallons for customers consuming 10,001 gallons and up.
Sewer rates would follow a similar structure. The tiered rates are to incentivize water conservation. A special discount will be available for low-income seniors. A vote will not be taken Thursday but discussion will be had on the matter if needed. A vote is tentatively scheduled to take place in December. For more information or to view the proposed rate structure, contact city hall.
Items on the agenda for vote at Thursday's regular meeting include:
* Authorization for the mayor to sign a resolution approving submission of a grant application to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to fund trail construction. The proposed trail would be about two-thirds of a mile long from Twin Bridge Road to Highway 140 east of Oothcalooga Creek near the Frank Moore Recreational Complex.
* Approval of insurance broker of record. A selection committee heard presentations from vendors and recommended the continued use of MSI Benefits Group of Kennesaw. Parnick Jennings of Shaw Hankins, however, addressed the council Tuesday asking for consideration to be made in choosing to shop locally in dealing with the Cartersville-based benefits provider instead.
* Award of contract for street improvements and widening for King Street, Summer Street and MLK Drive to the low bidder Butch Thompson Grading for the amount of $819,589.75. The project is funded by Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds.