Leesburg increases utility rates

LEESBURG, Ga. -- Lee County residents who use water, sewer or trash services provided by the city of Leesburg will see their rates increase immediately.

The rate hikes were approved by the Leesburg City Council Tuesday night. The votes to increase the rates were unanimous and taken without discussion or without publicly declaring specifics of the increases.

City of Leesburg customers inside the city limits will see their basic monthly water rate rise from $10.50 to $11. The charge per 1,000 gallons will increase from $1.55 to $2.

City customers who live outside the city limits pay a higher rate, but their increase is not as significant. The availability charge for those water customers will go from $13.70 to $14 with the per-1,000-gallon rate remaining at $2.25.

The charge for commercial water customers will also go up, from $10.50 to $11 with the $2 per thousand gallons of water used remaining stable.

The base sewer charge for both residential and commercial customers will rise from $10.50 to $12. The per-1,000-gallon treatment charge for residential customers will rise from $1.55 to $2.50. The charge per thousand gallons for commercial customers increases from $2 to $2.50.

Brent Davis, design engineer for Stevenson & Palmer Engineering Inc., said the higher rates will increase the city's revenue by approximately $13,100 a month, or $157,000 a year.

"Another in-depth study should be performed three years after the rate increase to re-evaluate the city's rates and take further action if necessary," Davis advised council members.

Davis also proposed that the rate hike be adopted quickly "to limit shortcomings for the 2013 budget."

City Council members are working with Carter & Sloope, consulting engineers for the city, to possibly begin a series of infrastructure improvements, including replacing outdated water lines that are hampered by leakage issues and the construction of an new elevated water tower.

Meanwhile, the city also approved an across-the-board rate hike of $2 for trash customers, moving from a monthly fee of $19.50 to $21.50.