Caledonia to see water-rate hike


Carmen K. Sisson



CALEDONIA -- Caledonia residents will see a water-rate increase possibly as soon as August if the Public Service Commission approves a petition Mayor George Gerhart signed during Tuesday night''s Board of Aldermen meeting.


Water Supervisor Benny Coleman said the flat rate will increase to $7.25 per 1,000 gallons, meaning an average family of four -- using 5,500 gallons per month -- would pay around $39.88.


Gerhart balked over signing the petition for increase, saying under the proposed new rates, his average monthly bill would rise from $58 to $108.



"I''m reluctant, but I''ll sign it, even though I ran (for election) saying I would not support a water-rate increase," Gerhart said as signed the petition.


Coleman said the increase is "the fairest way" to pay for the town''s new water treatment system and adjust for inflation. He said eight years ago, Caledonia only had 1,615 customers, but now they''re billing 1,938 customers. In the past month, customers used approximately 19.2 million gallons -- a total Coleman said is higher than he''s ever seen in Caledonia.


Under the current system, residents inside the town limits pay a minimum of $12 for up to 2,000 gallons, and residents outside the town limits pay a minimum of $14. The new rate will carry a flat rate of $7.25 per 1,000 gallons, both inside and outside the town limits, whether any water is actually used or not.


The increase is expected to bring in around $959,000 per year, which should leave a surplus of around $1,000 above the water department''s annual operating costs.


The Board of Aldermen urged Coleman to move forward on plans to apply for a $100,000 Small Municipal Grant, which would mainly be used for sewer upgrades but could be used for other things as well, including a community center or a new fire station. Town Attorney Jeff Smith said because they currently have an open grant, they must close related projects before they can apply for new funding.


The board also listened to campaign pitches by Allison Pritchard Kizer and Shane Tompkins, both of whom are running for county attorney, and Steve Wallace, who is running for district attorney.


"I need your vote, your family''s vote and your dog''s vote," Wallace told the aldermen.


In other matters, the Board of Aldermen took the following actions:


  • Voted to spend up to $500 for beautification around the town''s gazebo;


  • Voted to give water technician Trey Robertson a $1-per-hour raise, from $13.53 per hour, retroactive to June 14 when he passed his water certification test;


  • Voted to dispense a $5,166 fire rebate to Lowndes County;


  • Voted to give $350 to the town''s church softball league to purchase bats and softballs;


  • Voted to reimburse Town Clerk Judy Whitcomb for hotel, mileage and other expenses she will incur while attending an upcoming county clerk seminar in Jackson;


  • Agreed to move traffic court from Aug. 1 to Aug. 8 since Aug. 1 is election eve.


    The next Board of Aldermen meeting will be Aug. 2 at 6 p.m. at Town Hall.



Carmen K. Sisson is the former news editor at The Dispatch.



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