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Smyrna Residents Could See Water Rate Increase

Smyrna City Council will discuss a potential eight percent rate hike at its meeting Monday.

Smyrna residents could see an increase in their water bills beginning July 1. At a Smyrna City Council Committee of the Whole meeting earlier this week, the body discussed passing an eight percent increase to the tiered water rates after the Cobb County-Marietta Water Authority increased its rates earlier this year.

Smyrna buys its water wholesale from the water authority and then sells it to Smyrna citizens. In January, the water authority informed Smyrna officials that it was implementing an eight percent increase beginning Jan. 1, 2012. A representative from the water authority said the increase is scheduled for each year through 2018, but will be reviewed annually.

Until now, the city of Smyrna has absorbed the increase, but now Council must decide whether to pass that cost along to citizens at the start of FY 2013. If passed, the increase would only impact the tiered rates, not the base rate. To illustrate, at this time 3,000 gallons of water costs a Smyrna resident $23.25 per month. If the increase passes they'll pay $23.94 per month.

The increase would take effect July 1, six months before the Cobb Marietta Water Authority’s next eight percent increase in January. Ward 4 Councilman Charles “Corkey” Welch said it’s important that Council make the city’s increase match the water authority’s increase.

“My recommendation would be to make a motion that future Smyrna increases be made effective immediately upon Cobb County increases,” he said. “When January rolls around we shouldn’t absorb it. It’s not in our best interest to do that. It’s in our best interest to pass it along immediately to the citizens of Smyrna.”

In an email, Councilman Wade Lnenicka, Ward 6, said it’s likely an ordinance would be passed that mandates that future rate increase from the water authority be passed along to customers the same date the water authority’s increase is effective. If the ordinance passes, this means that Smyrnans will see another eight percent increase in January 2013.

Council will discuss the increase at Monday’s meeting at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall. Citizens will have the opportunity to sound off on the water increase and the rest of the at the public hearing held during that meeting.

What do you think about the proposed increase? Tell us in the comments.

Rufus Wienerhammer May 31, 2012 at 02:00 PM
If this increase passes I will most likely buy my water from other sources. There is a natural well on my property which I'm relatively sure is potable.
Brian May 31, 2012 at 02:18 PM
You're lucky. Most people have too much granite under them for that kind of thing to be an option. Make sure to check for radon and other contaminants.
Sydney Busby (Editor) May 31, 2012 at 02:46 PM
From Facebook: "The water rates are already criminal here in Smyrna."
C.J. May 31, 2012 at 02:51 PM
RE: "Smyrna buys its water wholesale from the water authority and then sells it to Smyrna citizens." "Wholesale" seems to imply that the City is reselling the water at a profit. If so, it would be great if Patch could let us know the difference between the retail and wholesale rates. In addition, assuming the City is reselling the water after marking up the rates, why doesn't the City save their residents money by getting out of the way and allowing us to purchase our water directly from the Cobb County-Marietta Water Authority?
C.J. May 31, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Okay, I visited the Cobb County-Marietta Water Authority (CCMWA) website, and found the answer to my question: "CCMWA is a wholesale provider for potable water and does not provide residential service." I'd still be interested to know details about the markup that Smyrna charges, if any, and how it compares to other municipalities that purchase from CCMWA.
Sydney Busby (Editor) May 31, 2012 at 03:10 PM
I'll see what I can find out about wholesale vs. retail. I actually have a chart that shows Smyrna's water rates compare to others in the area that I'll post to this story.
C.J. May 31, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Thanks Sydney!
Larry June 01, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Presumably the City of Smyrna owns the distribution pipes within the city and therefore has maintenance costs - thus there will be a mark-up from CCMWA's wholesale rate to Smyrna's retail rates. So Smyrna could only "get out of the way" if CCMWA was willing to take over ownership and maintenance costs for lines within the City.
Duncan June 01, 2012 at 04:34 PM
"...A representative from the water authority said the increase is scheduled for each year through 2018, but will be reviewed annually...." I'm not in Smyrna, I'm in Cobb Co. but with a Smyrna mailing address and was more than a bit miffed when all of the utilities went up this last year including the water. This is the first I remember hearing about an 8% increase per year every January til 2018; if my math is even partially correct, that means we'll be paying around 50% more at that time. I'd be interested in finding out how much of this money is going for real operating expenses and how much is going for bloated pay scales and benefits. It's interesting that in this time of austerity all around for ordinary folks, all of the corps and utility companies continue raising rates and raking in profits. I don't expect anybody to do anything about this..., especially the government; they're the ones instigating all this thievery.
Erik Fernald June 04, 2012 at 01:51 AM
Correct me if I am wrong, but I think Mayor Bacon is on the board. The key is why 8% for the period of time until 18'. It does seem a constantly high rate over 5-6 years. If we know the reason, we can stop the questions.
Sydney Busby (Editor) June 04, 2012 at 08:00 PM
Hey Duncan, I called the water authority and they said the increase is funding infrastructure improvements. Here's a link to a story with more information. http://patch.com/A-tNby

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