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Water and sewer rates may go up
Gainesville City Council to consider resolution at Tuesday meeting
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Gainesville water and sewer officials asked City Council on Thursday to approve rate increases for customers in 2010.

The proposed changes would raise water rates for city and county water customers by 5.5 percent and sewer rates by 6 percent, according to Tina Wetherford, finance and administration manager for Gainesville’s Public Utilities Department.

The rate changes usually are approved with the department’s fiscal year budget in June, but for the past two years department officials have waited until late in the year to calculate the rate to know exactly how much it will need to be to keep department budget sheets balanced.

Since a record drought in 2007 dampened the department’s revenues and the downturn of the economy followed shortly after, utility department officials have had to closely watch revenue streams. The department’s director, Kelly Randall, has said that waiting to set the rate until later in the year allows the department to more accurately assess its financial picture and set the rates based on the "latest and greatest" numbers.

The changes the department proposed Thursday would increase a $23.93 bill for a city resident who uses 10 cubic feet of water each month to $25.33, according to a report published by the department.

For a customer who lives outside the Gainesville city limits but uses the same amount of water monthly, a $47.86 bill would increase to $50.66 monthly.

A customer that uses 10 cubic feet of water and also utilizes city sewer services would see about a $4.50 change in their combined bill if they lived in the city limits, and about a $6 change if they lived outside the city.

During their work session Thursday, no council members raised objections to the proposed rates, which would go into effect in January if approved.

"So we’re talking cents all the time," Gainesville Mayor Myrtle Figueras said. "OK, it’s not dollars, it’s cents."

The council will consider the resolution at its meeting Tuesday.