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Gainesville water rates to remain unchanged
Account service fee to increase by 85 cents
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Gainesville City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a rollback of the property tax rate.  

Officials had previously set the rate at $3.06 per $1,000 of taxable property.

But as a result of a 7.65 percent increase in the tax digest over the last year, a fifth of which was a result of increases in property tax assessments, council rolled back the rate to $3.02 to remain revenue neutral.

Rolling back the tax rate equates to a loss of $134,000 in revenue, but not doing so would have amounted to a tax increase.

Council also rolled back the tax rate for the city’s school system to $7.48 per $1,000 of taxable property from $7.59.

Joshua Silavent

Gainesville City Council voted 4-1 today to leave water rates unchanged and raise the account service fee 85 cents.

The decision comes after the council deadlocked last month on whether to raise water rates 1 percent.

Council members George Wangemann and Sam Couvillon joined Mayor Danny Dunagan in opposing the water rate increase at the last meeting, while members Ruth Bruner, Bob Hamrick and Myrtle Figueras voted in favor of the increase.

On Tuesday, however, Bruner, Hamrick and Figueras joined Wangemann in supporting the zero percent increase in water rates, while Couvillon cast the lone dissent.

With four votes needed to pass the measure, Dunagan did not vote.

Couvillon said while he still supported no increase in water rates, he could not support the additional increase in the account service fee, which covers the cost of reading meters, sending bills and related customer service issues.

An original proposal called for a 65-cent increase in the fee.

The additional 20 cents will generate about $117,000 in revenue, according to Public Utilities Director Kelly Randall.

The monthly fee will rise to $5.10 from $4.25.

Meanwhile, a 1 percent increase in water rates would have generated about $230,000 in revenue.

Hamrick said while he remains concerned that increasing the fee while leaving water rates unchanged hits the pocketbooks of smaller users harder than large, corporate customers, he voted in favor of the latest proposal because the impasse had to be broken.