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Flowery Branch water rates to go up 10 percent

POSTED: August 8, 2014 2:13 a.m.

It’s the first increase in water and sewer rates since July 2011, according to City Finance Director Jeremy Perry. Council members at Thursday’s meeting unanimously approved the resolution.

“We’re still shy of having enough to cover operating expenses,” Perry said at the work session, held prior to the voting session. “So we need the 10 percent increase to do that. We also need the 10 percent increase to assist with the (Georgia Environmental Finance Authority) loan to assist with the Cinnamon Cove project.”

At least 6 percent of the increase is budgeted for that project, which would build a sewer pump station and line to divert wastewater treatment from the Cinnamon Cove location to the city’s plant on Atlanta Highway.

Perry said he expects the extra revenue generated from the increase to be around $152,000. People using 1,000 to 2,500 gallons monthly would see around a $1.41 increase on their monthly bill.

The vote came on the heels of a discussion of the city’s contract with Pall Corp. for filter maintenance at the wastewater treatment plant.

It’s a renewal of the 12-month contract, costing the city $11,145 plus airfare. Pall is the “sole vendor” for the system, Perry said.

“The contract includes system inspection, cleaning, support and travel expenses,” Perry said. This comes on top of regular maintenance provided by city employees. Last year, the city spent $11,472 with Pall.

“Now that the sand filter system is kind of beginning to break down, the Pall system is needing to have more maintenance,” said City Manager Bill Andrew. “So that’s basically why we’ve been using this full contract every year.”

The system, which blocks solid waste before the water gets to the microfilters, is “pretty much at the end of (its) useful life,” Perry added.

The estimated replacement cost of the sand filter system is $450,000. Perry suggested the replacement be included under the next special purpose local option sales tax, if approved by voters.

“It may be that we would have enough in our own capital fund to pay for this,” Andrew added.

The existing filtering system has been in place since the late 1990s or early 2000s, Andrew said.

“For $450,000, I would just think we should expect more than a 12- to 13-year life expectancy,” Councilman Damon Gibbs said when inquiring how long those systems typically last. “I’m just curious; I don’t know (how long they last).”

Council members approved the contract with Pall; Andrew said he could bring more information about the sand filter system to a future meeting.

“I’d rather that side be self-sufficient and generate enough revenue to repair and replace the things as they wear out,” Gibbs said. “That’s what would make the most sense to me.”


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