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07.18.07 -- REPORT: Council to consider water rate increase

By CHER PHILLIPS

The McIntosh Town Council approved new proposed water rates last Thursday that could generate more than $18,500 in revenue for the town that would wipe out the deficit created by a water system that is not paying for itself, but doesn't account for pending repairs.

Current water rates are $6 for the first 5,000 gallons and 50 cents per 1,000 more than 5,000.

From the water rate plans presented last Thursday, the council decided the next rate proposal is $9 for the first 5,000, then 75 cents per 1,000 gallons used above 5,000 and then $1 per 1,000 gallons used above 10,000.

Last month, the council asked for a breakdown of water usage and several rate proposals from the town clerk. In May, the council discussed the need to plan to replace one of the water system pumps. The initiated a water fee to generate a fund to pay for pending repairs, but then repealed that fee a month later.

But preparing to pay for repairs isn't the only issue facing the council. The water system is not paying for itself.

Based on McIntosh water use year from the 2006-2007 year, next year it would cost the town an $18,492 deficit. Broken down, at the current rates, the projected water fund income would be $32,538 next year, while expenses could amount to $51,030.

The original proposed rates did not offer a three-tiered rate system the council agreed on last week. The third tier targets the high-volume users in town.



Half of McIntosh's water customers use 5,000 or fewer gallons per month. But some residents are high volume users, with about 28 percent of the town's water customers using more than 10,000 gallons per month.

The customer with the largest water usage in McIntosh is Sportsman's Cove with 3.8 million
gallons per year. The Cove has 41 permanent families, plus an unknown number of visitors who stay in the RV park. Even without the RV park included, the Cove's residents average out to be low-to-mid level water consumers.

But some McIntosh residents consume a great deal more water. The top single family homes use more than 500,000 gallons of water per year.

Single Family home Yearly Use
#1 user 828,860 gallons
#2 user
555,260 gallons
#3 user
553,520 gallons
#4 user
538,700 gallons
#5 user
506,210 gallons


The high-volume customers would be hardest hit by the water rate increase. Take the No. 1 single family user for instance. That customer's highest month of water use was 151,560 gallons. At the current water rates, the monthly bill for that customer was about $79. At the new rates, that family's monthly bill would jump to about $158.

The town's average water customer would see far less of an impact in their bills. Even the moderate users who fall in the 16,000 gallon per month range would have water bills around $21.

One consideration the council discussed was that by raising the water in a tiered fashion, the high-volume users might be inspired to conserve more water. This is one point which clouds the projected income the town could make from the water hike, if passed.

Water rates in McIntosh have not been raised in more than 10 years. The last approved water rate hike in the 1990's was revoked a year later. In an interview a year ago, Council Vice President Howard Walkup said the rate increase was a hardship on the elderly in town. The town has not raised the water rates since.

This current council killed a water rate increase last fall of an increase of $3 per month. McIntosh currently has the lowest water rates in the county. This reporter has not been able to find water rates in the state of Florida lower than McIntosh's.

Check out the town's total water consumption for the year: McIntosh Water Use
(While water bills are public record, I chose not to post names of users online. Anyone with questions about this decision can contact me.

posted by Cher @ 9:13 AM,

3 Comments:

At   July 19, 2007 10:38 PM     ,    Anonymous Anonymous    said...

It is time to raise the water rates a small amount. Government should do for the people what they cannot do for themselves. A modest increase on water rates is probably warranted. Large users should have to pay more. Each household, regardless of whether in a mobile home park or a single site built home, should pay a reasonable amount for the first 5000 gallons. The cost of water for the next 5000 gallons should be set at half what is charged for the 1st 5000 gallons. Over 10,000 gallons should cost what the 1st 5000 gallons. A building permit inside the town should be $20,000.

 
At   July 19, 2007 11:00 PM     ,    Anonymous Anonymous    said...

Oh ya, and if you want to take down a tree that will cost you an arm. But who cares you have another.

 
At   August 05, 2007 8:35 PM     ,    Anonymous Anonymous    said...

The problem will not go away. it is election time again. Vote people out who want to stay in the past. It is time to look ahead.

 

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Editor and Publisher:

I'm Cher From McIntosh, FL I'm a graduate student at the University of Florida working on a master's degree in Mass Communication. While I was finishing my undergrad degree in journalism last year, I reported on McIntosh, Fla. for an in-depth reporting class. I figured that the reporting and the public record files should go somewhere people can access them. Reporters don't report to keep the information they find to themselves. Some of that reporting is included here in a forum that allows response. McIntosh suffers because with no news coverage, the local government and the rumor mill have too much potential to run rampant over residents. I moved to McIntosh in the fall of 1999. My profile

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