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Raising rates: Water and sewer bills set to increase

It seems as though everything is going up these days - not just gasoline.

Get ready to add water and sewer to the list.

That's right - water and sewer rates will be rising in both Thomson, Dearing and to those who receive water-sewer services within McDuffie County. The increases are expected to begin Nov. 1, pending final approval from county officials.

The rates for customers in Warren County, who purchase water from the Thomson-McDuffie Water/Sewer Commission, will also see a jump in the price of water for the slightly more than 100 customers who now get it.

For water customers living inside the city limits of Thomson, the price hike will mean 15 cents more per 1,000 gallons. The sewer rate will rise to 50 cents more per thousand gallons, said Thomson City Administrator Don Powers.

Robin Chasman, an engineer with O'Brien and Gere, said for the average homeowner in the City of Thomson currently using 6,000 gallons of water, the rate hike will mean 90 cents more per month. The average homeowner in the city would see an increase of $3 more for sewer services.

During a Thomson-McDuffie Water/Sewer Commission meeting, which involved both city and county officials attending last Tuesday at Thomson City Hall, Bob Flanders, retired city administrator, proposed that the rates take affect Nov. 1, rather than to see a rate increase begin in January. The proposal later was adopted by the Thomson-McDuffie Water/Sewer Commission, as well as by members of Thomson City Council.

County commissioners didn't vote on the measure because only two members- Chairman Charlie Newton and Vice-chairman Sammie Wilson, Sr. - were present. County leaders are expected to vote on the increase later this month.

Several months ago, officials in Warren County entered into a contract with the Thomson-McDuffie Water and Sewer Commission to purchase 50,000 gallons of water per day. Mr. Flanders pointed out during last week's meeting that the county currently is using far below that amount.

Warren County Commission Chairman John Graham said Monday he was planning to discuss the proposed water hike with fellow commissioners this week. Warren County officials are expected to set a new water price for about 115 customers currently receiving water from the Thomson-McDuffie Water/Sewer Commission - "likely at a special called meeting later this month when we establish a new county operating budget," Mr. Graham said.

The commission chairman said he realizes that Warren County is using below the 50,000 gallons of water per day that they entered in an agreement to with the Thomson-McDuffie Water/Sewer Commission.

"We requested that amount in hopes of anticipated growth around I-20 for more industry and new homes," Mr. Graham said.

"If we start growing in the future, we might have to go back to the commission and request more than the 50,000 gallons of water per day."

In an unrelated matter, members of the Thomson-McDuffie Water/Sewer Commission, which is chaired by Thomson Councilman J.T. Wiley, discussed major renovations of the Big Creek Water Treatment Plant. The upgrade of the plant, which is located in the Raysville Community, is necessary because local officials want to double the plant's current 2 million gallons of water per day to 4 million gallons.

"We have to remember this is crucial for us," Mayor Knox said in regards to planning for future water resources. Officials living in the Atlanta metro area "are knocking themselves over" to get water from Clarks Hill Lake, he added. "We need to move forward with these plans."

A low bid from Thamer Construction Southeast, LLC, of Norcross, Ga., was accepted unanimously by commission members to do the expansion work at the Big Creek Water Treatment Plant.

Web posted on Thursday, June 07, 2007

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