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Gainesville considers raising water rates

POSTED: August 15, 2014 12:08 a.m.

Politics are at play as Gainesville officials debate whether to implement a 1 percent rate increase for water service beginning next year.

City Council will hold a first vote on the matter Tuesday.

Public Utilities Director Kelly Randall has recommended the increase, which would generate an estimated $250,000 to $300,000 in additional revenue.

“We believe that’s reasonable,” he said. “We believe that’s ... good business.”

According to figures provided by Randall, lower-end users would see their costs rise a few cents, while larger consumers paying the highest tiered rate will likely still pay less than a dollar more each month.

But several council members have said they would prefer to hold the line for at least one year.  

“I will not support any increases,” Councilman Sam Couvillon said.

Mayor Danny Dunagan said a zero percent increase would be a goodwill gesture to city residents and businesses following year-after-year rate hikes.

But Councilwoman Ruth Bruner implied it would be disingenuous to tout no increase just for the sake of winning public support.

While Randall said his department could get by without the increase, it may result in more dramatic rate hikes in the coming years.

“In the future, it’s going to come back and bite us,” he added.

Councilman George Wangemann said he supported keeping the rate unchanged for a year, “but 1 percent is not unreasonable.” 

“I don’t like to see these big peaks and valleys in increases,” he added.

Councilman Bob Hamrick said he would like to see no increase.

And Councilwoman Myrtle Figueras said while she supported the 1 percent increase, she remained undecided on just how she would vote.

Meanwhile, Randall is recommending no rate increase for sewer service.

However, he has proposed a 65-cent increase in the account service fee, which covers the cost of reading meters, sending bills and related customer service issues.



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