Marietta water, power rates to increase in Jan.
by Noreen Cochran
December 13, 2012 01:21 AM | 2473 views | 6 6 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jim King
Jim King
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MARIETTA — Marietta residents will see higher power and water bills starting in January because the City Council unanimously approved rate hikes during its Wednesday meeting.

In other business, public outcry at the meeting, which was attended by about 75 residents, prompted a 6-0 vote to deny the application for a QuikTrip gas station at the corner of Whitlock Avenue and Burnt Hickory Road.

Only one council member wanted to discuss the rate changes at the Wednesday meeting.

“We’re all OK with it being on the consent agenda with (City Councilman) Anthony Coleman opposed to an electric rate increase,” said City Councilman Jim King, who represents the Council to the city Board of Lights and Water, after the pre-meeting agenda review.

Coleman said even though the utility has programs to help lower-income consumers, he did not want his constituents to struggle more than necessary.

“I am a strong proponent of supporting our seniors,” he said. “They’re on a fixed income and have of lot of challenges paying the utility bills. It can sometimes be a choice between buying food and medicine or paying the utility bill.”

The board, on which King and Mayor Steve Tumlin both sit, approved rate hikes 7-0 at its 3 p.m. meeting for electricity and water, citing rising costs and lowered revenue.

Electricity will go up about 7 percent, or another $6.40 a month for an average household using 850 kilowatt hours, an increase of 4 cents per kWh.

Water rates will go up 3 percent, or 16 cents a month for consumers of 2,000 gallons, 42 cents at 4,000 gallons and 81 cents at 7,000 gallons.

Sewer rates did not rise because expenses for sanitary sewer treatment did not increase.

King made favorable comparisons between the city utility and its competitors.

“We’re not competing,” he said. “We’re cheaper.”

But Larry Wills of Marietta dismissed that argument during a public comment section of the regular meeting.

“Every time this issue comes up, there’s a discussion on where the city stands with other cities,” he said. “That’s not the concern of the citizens. They are concerned with the entire bill, which includes the franchise fee and state and local taxes. These are things you have to consider in total, not just the increase in electricity or water.”

He said the board needs new leadership to restore the utility’s former reserves of $17 million.

“If that money were still there, it might ameliorate the rate increases customers are facing for the next five to seven years,” Wills said.

King’s board report at the agenda review included an idea that may gain traction in future — automatic rate increases.

“That’s a great idea,” Tumlin said.

Councilman Philip Goldstein disagreed.

“I would prefer our current route of looking at it. It’s uncomfortable to vote on increases,” he said.

With one pro and one con opinion, King said he would ask the board to examine the issue further.

While the QT matter did not require a public hearing, eight residents signed up to speak and another five made unscheduled appearances.

The Tulsa, Okla.-based gas station chain proposed its ninth Marietta location on the 1.2-acre site abutting the Burnt Hickory Village shopping center.

Its application for 10 variances included reducing the amount of land between its 5,720-square-foot convenience store and shopping center boundaries.

Objections to the application by the 13 speakers included traffic, safety, light pollution, trees, right of way, property values, parking, property size, appearance, storm water runoff, a retaining wall, quality of life and public health.

“I don’t oppose QT in general. I do oppose their disregard for our zoning ordinances,” said Rob McPherson, an engineer and site development expert. “They’re trying to cram too big of a project on too little of a site.”

QT representative Richard Calhoun said his client sought variances, not rezoning, for conditions mandated before the area was developed commercially.

“Variances don’t change the use, but there are restrictions that need some relief,” he said. “I don’t know what construction could take place in that corridor without variances.”

Calhoun asked the City Council to postpone rather than deny the application in order to give the applicant more time.

“Maybe we can bring them around to our point of view,” he said about the homeowners’ associations and individuals.

However, City Councilman Andy Morris, in whose Ward 4 the proposed project lies, moved for denial soon after the public speakers concluded.

The council’s 6-0 support of the motion for denial, with Goldstein abstaining, brought applause.
Comments
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RT Shepherd
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December 13, 2012
ShariKG, the closest that site will ever get to having a Trader Joes is if somebody tapes a picture of a Trader Joes store to the side of the office building that's been sitting there vacant for the past 6 years.

The residents just saw to that by running off the only new spark of redevelopment that's been interested in this area for years.

Wishing for a trendy food store or restaurant isn't going to make it happen.
Pat H
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December 13, 2012
At least MBP&L has programs to help low income customers. Not so with Cobb EMC - they spend their money protecting Dwight Brown with fancy lawyers and paying fat retirement packages for Brown's Board of Thieves. They just direct needy rate payers to find help from government programs.

Funny, I just got a Christmas card from Roy Barnes who overcharged the EMC to pull tricks to get Brown's indictment squashed. He asked me to give to charities in the card!!! He benefited from hostage EMC customers and wants us to donate to charity. Unbelievable.
A senior
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December 13, 2012
I am one of the seniors, living in a total electric home and I can say truthfully that I live in a very cool house, my water bill, for one person, is high and I am wondering just what the future holds for us. I can simply not afford to have everything, especially food and utilities to continue to escalate and my income to have so many bites taken from it. Is no one interested in trying to find ways to save us money? This is one of the reasons I was so disappointed that we did not get some new blood in city government. (and thank you Larry Wills for speaking out)
VFP42
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December 13, 2012
Yeah, this QT plan was the "By golly at least they didn't do that" plan. We'll see the real plan sooner or later, but it will probably later than it gets voted for by the City Council.

"We don't know HOW that QT vote ended up on the not-previously-announced agenda for tonight's not-previously-announced meeting. We put notification on the City website at 4:59 PM that day for the 7:00 PM meeting, so if you didn't see that, how is that the City's fault?"

The "Burnt Hickory QT" countdown clock has begun! Tick tock! If you don't want a QT on "your" corner, stop driving all over the place needlessly! Driving to the city council meeting to speak against it ultimately does no good (just watch), but does help QT by burning needlessly through yet another gallon of gasoline!
Resident46
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December 13, 2012
Whew! Thank God we're saved from QT. Now when is Trader Joe's going to start their store out here?

Hey, Joe... you there?

Joe, where are you??

Joe?

Aw the heck with it, Guess I'll just go back to Kroger.
ShariKG
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December 13, 2012
Yes, please, Trader Joe's....please please please !!
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