Utility rates might be increasing, as was suggested by the city’s Utility Department, and the proposed budget for the City of Calhoun, including the budget for Calhoun City Schools, was read for the second time.

Calhoun Utilities Administrator Larry Vickery proposed utility rate changes to the board during Monday’s City Council meeting, recommending changes be made to sewer and water rates, as well as electric rates. An increase of 3% to base sewer and water rates per 1000 gallons was suggested by Vickery to continue as the city moves into the next fiscal year.

“We’ve gone a long time without increases,” Vickery said. “Over the past 10 years the economy has been lousy, so we have to increase the rate to recover the cost of doing business.”

Vickery’s recommended increases are lower than other rising rates in surrounding counties, he said, adding that Floyd and Bartow counties have built-in 5% annual raises. Vickery said his proposed changes to the rates are minimal, and he doesn’t see them as significant changes.

The rate resolution is available on the city’s website, and a majority of the rates increase by roughly 3% regardless of neighborhood or zoning classification. The rate schedule clarifies that an automatic 3% rate increase would apply to city taxpayers over the next five years, with additional revenue used to pay for water and sewer services.

“If we changed anything, it was because of necessity and trying to recover some of the costs. We have to bring it up to what our cost of service would be,” Vickery said. “We still aim to operate efficiently and to be the best stewards of the city that we can.”

Monday symbolized the first reading of the proposed utility rate increases, and a second reading will be held at the meeting on June 17.

Also on Monday, the council held the second reading for the city’s operating budget for the next fiscal year, which starts in July. This reading included words from Calhoun City Schools Superintendent Michele Taylor, who reported on the school district’s proposed budget.

Taylor said revenues increased by $2,228,000, which was primarily due to an increase on their Quality Basic Education state-allotted revenues and state-required raises of $3,000 for each certified teacher.

Apart from the schools, the city will also look to continue updating the police department’s fleet for $814,000 — the city spent about $100,000 on these updates last year and will look to split the remaining cost over two years at $308,000 each year.

The city is planning on reserving SPLOST — the 1-cent special purpose, local option sales tax — funds for the construction of a new police station on McDaniel Station Road, projected to cost $3.6 million, and remodeling the recreation department’s general maintenance building, estimated at $500,000.

The council also approved a zoning request from Will Crunk to change 25.36 acres on Dews Pond Road from R-1 Residential to C-2 Commercial on behalf of Hamilton Medical Center.

As far as summer plans, the city approved a special event permit by New Beginnings Ministries to host “Community Fun Day” on June 22, which requested a section of Short McConnell Road to be closed for the day’s festivities. Another Food Trucks and Friends event will also be held in the Depot parking lot on Aug. 23, starting at 5:30 p.m.

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