Brundidge rate changes looming?

Published 8:04 pm Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The city of Brundidge approved its budget for the year Tuesday, but decisions on utility, water and sewer rates still loom.

The Brundidge City Council has discussed for months making changes in these rates, which would give residents a decrease on utility costs and an increase on water and sewer costs if implemented.

The discussion came after the city hired an engineering company to perform a local rate study in hopes of bringing them up to par financially.

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In that study, officials suggested the city raise its minimum monthly power charge, which is the basic charge it costs to have power turned on, from $7.50 to $24 per month.

While the charge would increase, the rates per hour would decrease by 2 cents per kilowatt-hour. Under the proposed plan, that would boil down to about a $7 savings for residents who use 1,000 kilowatts per hour each month, close to what the average consumer uses.

Brundidge Mayor Jimmy Ramage said while the budget has been passed without these utility savings, the city’s residents have already been experiencing some savings in power bills, since the city’s wholesale supplier decreased its costs to Brundidge.

“They got the advantage of lower wholesale costs on last months bill,” Ramage said.

“In December we will get a new rate from PowerSouth for the next so many months, and that will be implemented then.”

Ramage said he anticipates that amount being similar to what it is now.

But, just as the city weighs decreases in utility costs, it also considers increases in water and sewer rates.

Ramage said the city supplies its own water but is falling behind as costs increase.

If the sewer and water rates were implemented, it would costs residents about $14 more on 5,300 gallons of use, which is average.

However, that plan will likely be implemented over a three-year period, so as to not hit pocketbooks too hard at once, Ramage said.

“The costs have gone up so much, we’re already behind the curb,” Ramage said.

“We don’t want to have a major increase, so we want to do one each year to implement over a three-year period.”

Ramage said if there are rate changes, the budget would simply have to be amended, but it is likely the council will not consider changes until December.