PTC sewer rate unchanged with $9.2M WASA budget

At its meeting Monday night, Peachtree City’s Water and Sewer Authority unanimously passed a $9.27 million budget for the upcoming 2013-2014 fiscal year.

No rate increase is anticipated. In fact, later this year, WASA plans to discuss a potential rate decrease to reflect the savings from refinancing the authority’s bonds earlier this year.

While total expenditures are up by $562,000 compared to last year, it’s due to an increased capital program to address necessary equipment replacement and upgrades at WASA facilities.

Although the budget discussion went on for more than two hours, the changes to the budget enacted by the WASA board were few and none affected the bottom line.

The budget includes a 1.5 percent cost of living increase for all employees except General Manager Steven Hogan, and another 1.5 percent of employees’ salary was set aside for Hogan to give as merit increases. Lumped together, the cost of living and merit increases will cost about $46,000.

At the request of WASA Board Member Terry Garlock, the budget will be amended to list spending on a public relations consultant in a separate line item. So far this year, that spending has been about $20,000, Hogan reported.

WASA Chairman Mike Harman noted that the board began using a PR consultant in January of 2011 following a significant rate increase in December 2010 based on input from a City Council member who said the board wasn’t doing a good job of communicating issues with its ratepayers.

By having the spending set aside as a separate line item, the board can track it better, Garlock said.

The other significant budget discussion dealt with $250,000 set aside for purchasing chemicals that combat odor problems at four different lift stations in the city. Garlock asked if the cost could be lowered, and Harman suggested a carbon feeding unit and fan to the lift stations that could be more cost-effective, but it was determined it could only apply to two of the four lift stations.

WASA staffers noted that it gets persistent phone calls when there are odor issues surrounding any lift station.

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