A 5 percent increase in water and sewer rates may be in store for Flowery Branch customers.
The Flowery Branch City Council is set to vote Thursday on the hikes, which are part of a multi-year plan to pay for water and sewer improvements.
The South Hall city is looking at applying to the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority for a $20.1 million loan to build a new sewer plant and $5.1 million for water improvements, including a new 250,000-gallon water tank.
Paying off the 20-year loans is tied to annually increasing water and sewer rates. The 5 percent hike is proposed to take effect Oct. 18, with ratepayers seeing the increase in their November bills.
Bobby Sills of Nelsnick Associates, an Athens-based firm working with the city on its water and sewer plans, showed the council a chart at its Oct. 3 meeting projecting 6 percent water rate increases and 7 percent sewer rate increases starting next fiscal year and running through fiscal 2024.
However, “as we get more and more customers, it will help lessen that blow,” City Manager Bill Andrew said at the meeting.
The city’s rapid growth is fueling the utility improvements.
The new plant would expand the city’s sewer capacity to 1.8 million gallons per day. The current plant is permitted to treat 1 million gallons per day.
“The expansion and upgrade of the plant is necessary because the existing plant is projected to reach capacity within the next three years,” a city report states.
Flowery Branch has about 1,300 sewer customers, with housing projects approved and under construction expected to add at least 900 homes within the next five years “if the economy stays strong,” the report says.
“Current city water demand is approximately 225,000 gallons per day. This figure is expected to more than double over the next 10 years, as Flowery Branch undergoes significant development.”
Also, “fire is an increasing concern because housing densities are increasing, resulting in possible multi-structure fires,” the report says.
Flowery Branch City Council
What: Proposed 5 percent hike in water and sewer rates
When: 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17
Where: City Hall, 5410 W. Pine St.