Smyrna water rates going up 6%
by Geoff Folsom
January 03, 2013 06:26 AM | 3270 views | 3 3 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
SMYRNA — The city of Smyrna’s more than 14,000 water customers recently received notices telling them their rates are increasing by 6 percent. And the increase didn’t require a vote from the City Council.

The increase comes as a result of a 6 percent rise in wholesale rates charged to the city by the Cobb County-Marietta Water Authority. City Administrator Eric Taylor said an ordinance approved by the Smyrna City Council on June 4 automatically passes along whatever rate the water authority charges its customers, without requiring an additional vote.

Taylor said the change was a reaction to several consecutive years of water rate increases from the water authority, which is looking to offset repair costs.

“It’s one of those things that’s going to happen every year anyway,” he said. “In the past we would wait until February or March to pass it on. The new Council decided that anytime there is a rate change, to just pass it on.”

Councilman Ron Fennel said the decision was a commonsense move to deal with something the city doesn’t control.

“It just makes sense,” Fennel said. “If the rate is what the rate is, we can’t affect the rate.”

According to the notice sent in the most recent water bill, a customer who uses 7,000 gallons of water a month will see an increase of $1.61 to the monthly water bill. Sewer, storm water and based rates are not expected to change.

Like Smyrna, water customers in Marietta will also see a 6 percent rate increase on their bills this month. But that rate hike required a vote by the City Council, which unanimously approved the increase in December.

Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin said he supports an automatic pass-along when the water authority raises or lowers its rates, but the idea has picked up little traction among the Council. Because the wholesalers from which the city buys water, electricity and sewer services are all publicly owned and subject to open records requests, Tumlin said people can see where the money is going.

“We’re not buying from somebody where there’s a kickback involved or something else is going on,” he said. “(Voting) makes this more political. I think we need to make this pure business.”

The water authority provides drinking water to customers, including Cobb and Paulding counties; the cities of Marietta, Smyrna, Austell and Powder Springs; and Lockheed Martin Corp.

Cobb County was able to avoid a planned 3 percent water rate increase for its customers for 2013 by letting the county’s water system keep $3.4 million of the $20 million it has been required to transfer into the county general fund to help balance the budget.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
January 03, 2013
Much of this increase is caused by the Cobb County Commissioner's annual transfer of approx. $ 20,000,000 from the Water Department to Cobb's General Fund. This annual transfer MUST cease!

We can do something else! STARVE the Cobb County-Marietta Water Authority BEAST!

Stop every drop of non-necessary water usage. I'll trust God to take care of my yard and I will decrease my total water usage by much more than 6%.
In the know.
January 08, 2013
The Cobb County-Marietta Water Authority is a Non-profit government entity. Although it is governed by local leaders, it has no financial ties with Cobb County Government. All funds it receives has to be reinvested back into the company to enhance the system. The cost of treating water rises every year (as does everything in this world). Fuel, power, chemicals, and other charges increase annually. Compare water rates with neighboring counties and take in effect the quality and dependability of the system, Nobody even compares to CCMWA.

I will agree that the transfer of funds from water departments to general funds is disgraceful. In the end it is the system that suffers and the taxpayers left footing the bill.
January 03, 2013
Speaking of the city monopolies acting as surrogates for property taxes so we can make believe our property taxes are lower than Fulton's since some of the millage is displaced to power and water bills, why is the cable TV company still a monopoly anyway? Cable service is all digital now, so that "one wire on the pole" could carry distinct service from any cable TV company on earth. It wasn't possible with analog service, but that is a thing of the distant past. It's time for the city to move forward. You want people to move here? Give them cable & internet choice. That's about the best thing any city can offer in metro Atlanta except maybe free gasoline.

Watch out Bacon! There's gonna be hell to pay whenever MK wakes up!

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