County to consider water rate hike
by Jon Gillooly
November 12, 2012 01:02 AM | 2467 views | 14 14 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cobb County Chairman Tim Lee (MDJ File Photo)
Cobb County Chairman Tim Lee (MDJ File Photo)
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MARIETTA — Cobb Water customers may see a rate increase starting Jan. 1.

Cobb Water System director Steve McCullers is expected to ask the Board of Commissioners on Tuesday to raise county water rates by 3 percent and sewer rates by 1 percent effective Jan. 1.

McCullers said for a typical 6,000 gallon per month user, which he described as a family of four, this amounts to a 93 cent monthly increase.

McCullers said the increase is needed because the county’s water wholesaler, the Cobb County-Marietta Water Authority, has increased the cost of water.

The sewer increase is needed because of rising costs of power and chemicals, he said.

McCullers acknowledged that the fee hike would not be needed if the Board of Commissioners didn’t transfer $20 million from the water system to its general fund to help balance the budget.

But as Northwest Commissioner Helen Goreham points out, “If we didn’t do the $20 million transfer, we would have to come up with the $20 million in some other fashion.”

Goreham said she likely will vote in favor of the increase unless other sources of revenue can be found.

“It would be nice if we didn’t have increases in the cost of services, but this is a reality,” Goreham said. “We still are one of the lowest priced water providers in the metro area.”

Under the proposed increase, McCullers said a residential customer would pay $2.91 per 1,000 gallons for the first 3,000 gallons used in any month; $4.49 per 1,000 for the next 12,000 gallons; $5.59 per 1,000 for the next 14,000; and $8.50 per 1,000 for anything above that.

“Clearly, this type of structure discourages excessive irrigation and other discretionary uses,” he said.

A 3,000 gallon per month user would pay $8.73 per month for the water used — excluding base charge and any sewer charge — while a 6,000 gallon per month user would pay $22.20 per month, well more than double the cost for twice as much water.

“The tiered rates hopefully make customers think carefully about unnecessary water use,” he said.

County Chairman Tim Lee, who also serves on the board of the Water Authority, said he supports the rate increase.

As for not doing the $20 million transfer from the water department to the general fund, Lee said that would mean services would have to be cut.

“I could also cut services too in the water department, stop doing as much stormwater work, there’s a lot of ways I could have not done that,” Lee said. “I could have reduced the number of people at water, I could have not transferred it over and reduced parks and rec services there or reduced our library hours, there are a lot of alternatives.”

McCullers is also asking to hire a security officer for the Water System’s Customer Service building.

“When people have their water turned off for nonpayment, they sometimes get a little agitated about it,” Goreham said. “I have gotten phone calls to my office with people very much upset when they go to take a shower and there’s no water coming out. If workers feel threatened, then it’s our responsibly to address that situation and provide a safe and comfortable place of employment.”

The $63,742 position would be filled by hiring four part-time officers.

Commissioners will meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the board room located at 100 Cherokee St. in Marietta.
Comments
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L & SK
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November 18, 2012
My husband & I moved to Georgia a little over 2 years ago. We are transferees and have lived in 5 different states: Illinois, Arizona, North Carolina, Indiana and now Georgia. We are appalled at the incredibly high cost of water and electricity in this state. We have never paid the sky-high rates that we pay here. Our home and lot here are of comparable size to what we had in Indiana but our water rates are 4 times what they were there!!! This is insanity. Georgians are being ripped off by ineffective, inefficient and corrupt local and state government. Its time for the villagers to storm the castle with the torches and pitchforks and demand reform.
anonymous
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November 12, 2012
This article never mentions the fact that Cobb County water dept has RAISED OUR WATER RATES for the past 5 years in a row...and passed the increase onto the General Fund. This is Russia and we are trapped in a Third World society where little authority figures make taxes go up at the drop of a hat. They never look at how cost of food, car gas, utilities, phone, cable bill all go up at the same time while people never get an increase in our income.

Goreham is Lee's little yes man, nurse maid. And the County is being Diss-Served by Lee.
Confused Disgusted
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November 12, 2012
I agree, the County needs to be investigated as there is a lot of "Robbing from Peter to pay Paul" and it needs to stop. Take a look at the month of September spending for the County and see how much money was wasted on stupid stuff. Someone needs to put a stop to the "Big Time Spenders".
Lance in Austell
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November 12, 2012
Instead of raising water rates to cover the County's budget, how about cutting wasteful and unnecessary government spending? Lee and Goreham's claim that this is the only way to cover the shortfall is unfounded. Here's some suggestions to them and the rest of the Commissioners:

Transfer all CCT services to the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority: $5 million savings

Privatize maintenance operations of water system: $3 million savings

Privatize field maintenance operations of Cobb DOT; $ 3 million savings

Privatize all Parks and Rec. $ 2 million savings

Eliminate Economic Development Dept. $ 400,000 savings

Eliminate all Grant programs. $ 4 million savings

Eliminate all vacant and funded employee positions. $ 4 million.

That's just $18.4 million off the top of my head. The Commission, in its infinite wisdom, I'm sure could come up with the additional $1.6 million (a tiny fraction of the total county budget)without draconian cuts.
SG68
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November 12, 2012
@ Lance in Austell

Not sure where you got the numbers from and what was included (i.e. insurance, retirement, related equipment costs, etc.) but your total estimated savings is actually $21.4 M, not $18.4 M.

As I stated in my post below they just need to bite the bullet and make those difficult decisions.

VFP42
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November 13, 2012
Don't forget about the roads! Why do taxes pay for creating and maintaining these hardened surfaces on which kings and queens drive their private chariots?

If public dollars are paid towards a transportation "SYSTEM" then it needs to meet the definition of "SYSTEM!!!"

Roads don't do nothing but cost us all a bunch of money we don't have. They don't go nowhere. They just sit there and create storm water issues until they crumble.

We all have to pour countless $$$thousands$$$ of dollars $$$per year$$$ of our $$$OWN MONEY$$$ into cars and tires and gasoline and government mandated chariot insurance to get any use out of the roads our tax dollars pay for!!

PRIVITIZE ROADS TODAY! Let the KINGS and QUEENS pay for their own CHARIOT PATHS!

OR ARE YOU ALL WELFARE KINGS AND QUEENS?

YES, YES YOU ARE. QUIT DRIVING ON MY BACK!!!!

It is WAY past time to build a g-d d-mn train for people to take to work. Not everyone could or would use it, but you can bet your bottom dollar that the people who work in downtown Atlanta and live along the train lines through Vinings Marietta Smyrna Woodstock all the way up to Cartersville would love to at LEAST have the option if not use it most every day!

DRIVE TIME could be MILLER TIME, but no, the MDJ wants car ads, the car dealers want you buying cars, terrorists and Texans and Alaskans all want you buying oil and gasoline, the cops want their DUI revenue stream (it is rarely about safety anymore.. it's just a revenue stream now), their red light cameras, the traffic court jobs program, the traffic cop jobs program, the insurance industry etc etc etc. I can't afford to provide all those people jobs. I aint' ROMNEY RICH and neither are YOU! We all need to think twice about our total reliance on cars.

Cars are great when you need them, but seriously, how often is that the case for any reason OTHER than that the transportation "system" REQUIRES you to use a car? You ain't hauling groceries everywhere you go. You don't usually need that car. You really really really don't.

Cars cause more fatalties and injuries than anyone cares to consider, but we are scared of NOT having them? THe boogeyman might get us? OUR CARS ARE THE BOOGEYMAN AND THEY GET US EVERY DAY!

/rant
SG68
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November 12, 2012
This manipulation is the cowards way out.

Spending cuts should be the the first alternative that is utilized.

Obviously the commissioners (at least Lee and Goreham) don't want to make the tough decisions.

They would rather address the issue with a slick backdoor tax increase.
Tim A
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November 12, 2012
Our Commissioners are talking of transfering money from the water revenue to use by the county and now you want to raise our rates! Have you no SHAME!!!!
Kennesaw Resident
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November 12, 2012
@ Helen Goreham, No you don't have to come up with the $20 million from somewhere else. You could cut the $20 million! Get your scissors out!
Samuel Adams
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November 12, 2012
Just seems to me the county is laundering the money for the general fund through the water dept.

I hope someone (the FBI?) would audit these goings on, to make sure it's above board. When my widowed, elderly mother has a water bill of $230 and she hasn't got a leak and hasn't watered her lawn, something is not right. My own water bill has almost doubled in the last year.

Another Tax Increase
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November 12, 2012
Another tax increase by the republicans. That's why NO ONE beleives their lies when they say they're the party of low taxes. Their gullible people don't even believe them now. They're always adding extra fines and fees onto everything -- look at what a travesty the I-85 toll is. The public is feed up with this and republicans are on their way out.
Kennesaw Resident
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November 12, 2012
It is time to put Libertarians in office.
VFP42
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November 12, 2012
LOOTERS ON THE LOOSE IN COBB!

The key fact buried halfway through this innocuous little rate hike story is that the rate hike is due to $20 million of looting.

This situation is just like the SPLOSTs.

The SPLOST money may be "guaranteed" to go toward education or transportation, but what about the existing education or transporation funds?

Those are LOOTED like our water and sewer funds!

SPLOST = TAX = LOOTING

I thought Cobb was the Conservative county, but it's really the TAX AND LOOT COUNTY (TALC)

Since Marietta elected OBAMA, and we do not want to be associated with that sort of thing can we change the cname of this newspaper from the Marietta Daily Journal to the TALC Journal?
anonymous
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November 12, 2012
Just to clarify: You are going to raise rates, transfer the money to other areas and then hire an armed guard to stop people voicing their frustration.... Enjoy the rest of your term Goreham. Mr. Lee, (I love tax increases and filed for bankruptcy leaving small businessmen holding the bag) you are an embarrassment to this county.

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