Roswell increases water fees

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ROSWELL, Ga. – The cost of buying water in the city of Roswell is going to go up – by about 15 percent over five years.

The city of Roswell provides water services to 14,300 residents. Most of its users are in east Roswell, especially in the historic district. The rest of the city gets its water from Fulton County. When the city’s needs exceed its ability to provide water by itself, it taps into Fulton County water.

The city recently began construction of a new water plant that is expected to pump enough water to meet the city’s needs at less cost, as it replaced aging and obsolete systems. Officials say it will reduce the city’s need to tap into county water, saving money. Wells have also been dug to provide extra water sources.

Roswell Finance Director Keith Lee told the City Council Aug. 25 the current fees and income are enough to cover the city’s cost of operations today, but maintenance of the city’s water system, salary and benefits increases for staff and the increased costs of inflation on utilities, fuel and supplies will all go up incrementally each year going forward. To keep pace with the increased costs, Lee said an annual increase in fees will be needed.

For Roswell customers, this is expected to translate into an 8 percent increase in January 2015, with a further 1.5 percent increase each year until 2019. These increases in revenue will provide the extra income needed to sustain the water system, Lee said.

Those on Fulton County water will not be affected.

“This is the most fiscally responsible for us,” said Councilmember Kent Igleheart. “No one likes to increase costs.”

Member of the community who spoke on the issue agreed.

“We don’t need to be in the water business anymore,” said Janet Russel, a resident who spoke against the raise. “It’s a matter of civic ego, not civic pride.”

Lee Fleck, another resident, said it was only a matter of time before the fee increase would come.

Fleck pointed to a July 2010 Water System Master Plan that he said predicted a need to increase rates to keep pace with rising costs.

“They told you back then what your rate increase was going to be,” Fleck said, “and you ignored it.”

After the increase in fees, Lee said Roswell’s water costs would still be lower than much of the metro Atlanta area.

“We are in the bottom half of the charges we would charge for water consumption,” Lee said.

At $16.85 per 3,000 gallons used by Roswell water users, a similar amount would cost $19.70 in Atlanta. Fulton County water users – which include most of the county, including the rest of North Fulton – would pay $12.51 for that same amount.

The fee increase was approved unanimously by the council.

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