By Trent Moore
The Cullman Times
Water, sewer and sanitation rates for Cullman residents are going up. Citing an increase in associated fees, the City of Cullman has approved rate increases for all three services effective January 1, 2013.
“Those will see a slight increase to cover costs, based on an increase in expenses the departments have incurred,” council president Garlan Gudger, Jr. said.
The retail water rate inside the city will increase from $22.90 for the first 3,000 gallons to $24.25. The cost of every 1,000 gallons after that will increase from $5.35 to $5.75. The increase represents a 5.89 percent increase year-to-date for a minimum water bill. The rate has climbed more than $6 in the past five years, up from $17.31 in 2009.
Minimum sewer rates for the first 3,000 gallons will also increase, from $32.25 to $33.50. The cost of every 1,000 gallons after the initial 3,000 will rise from $10.30 to $10.75. The change represents a 3.87 percent increase from the previous year. The minimum sewer rate has increased by more than $9 in just five years, up from $24.37 in 2009.
Officials cite increased operating expenses, capital purchases and debt service for the change. Over the past two years, the city utilities board has undertaken a massive $68 million secondary water source project via the Duck River dam, which accounts for a portion of the debt service. Officials say the cost of water has also risen due to more advanced treatment techniques and equipment upgrades at the treatment plant, which were needed to meet higher federal water standards.
Though rates have steadily increased the past several years, officials say they do not anticipate any drastic price hikes in the future.
Sanitation fees for city residents and business owners will also be going up slightly on Jan. 1, a move officials say was predicated by a rate increase at the local landfill. The residential rate will increase from $15 to $16; commercial rates will increase from $34 to $36; and yard container fees will also see an up-tick depending on volume.
The fee hike should allow the sanitation department to break even in 2013.
“That’s something we can’t really help,” sanitation department superintendent Larry Jones said.
Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.