Monthly water charges adjusted by MWA

The Macon Water Authority board voted to change its rates Thursday evening, making water and sewer service cheaper for most apartment complexes, more expensive for some large-volume users and about 95 cents a month more costly for most residential customers.

Most commercial users, who generally use two-inch meters, will see an increase of about $35, or 10 percent, a month, MWA Executive Director Tony Rojas said.

The new rates take effect Jan. 1.

The changes will create “an equity that you didn’t have before” and help shore up the authority’s bottom line after a rough financial year, Rojas said.

“If we don’t work on this, we’re going to have to borrow money to make repairs,” Rojas said. “We try to have incremental increases ... so we don’t have to have large increases.”

Apartment complexes will no longer pay a monthly minimum for water and sewer services, switching instead to a system more like ones used by regular residential customers. That means complexes will pay a base charge, then pay for water and sewer services used. That will save many complexes money, water authority officials said.

Partly to make up for that lost revenue, the authority will charge higher base sewer fees for large users, who for years have paid the same $5 monthly base fee as smaller customers. Everyone will pay an extra 5 cents per 100 cubic feet of water used.

The authority’s rates still will be lower than those of most large water and sewer providers in the state, according to a summary provided by the authority.

Also, Lake Wildwood residents will soon pay the same rates other Bibb County residents pay. The gated community had been under a 10-year contract to pay higher rates, but that agreement runs out at the end of next month, lowering the rates, Rojas said.

That will mean a revenue loss of about $200,000 a year for the authority, Rojas said.

The vote was 5-1 to change the rates, with authority member and Bibb County Commissioner Bert Bivins absent from Thursday’s meeting. Authority member and Macon City Councilman Ed DeFore voted against the change, saying he couldn’t increase rates in a down economy.

Ninety-five cents a month might not be much, DeFore said, but “that would buy a loaf of bread.”

In other business Thursday the authority’s board:

Ÿ Signed off on contracts to build a new water tower and water/sewer infrastructure for the Sofkee Industrial Park in south Bibb County. The authority awarded contracts of about $1.46 million to Caldwell Tanks Inc. and $583,509 to Tommy L. Griffin Plumbing and Heating Co., both low bidders, according to authority paperwork. Kumho Tires is expected to build a tire plant in the park, though that project has been delayed by the economic slump’s effect on the auto industry. Local development officials Pat Topping and Chip Cherry told authority members that Kumho remains committed to that project, but Rojas said the infrastructure would be needed for the park regardless of who eventually fills it.

Ÿ Heard from Rojas about $2 million in funding the authority will get through the state to fix leaky sewer pipes across a swath of Macon. About $1.2 million of that will come from a loan, and $800,000 from a grant, Rojas said. The work will focus on lining and repairing pipes in neighborhoods east of Interstate 75 from the I-75/I-16 interchange up to Tom Hill Sr. Boulevard. During heavy rains these pipes take on water, causing sewage overflows, Rojas said.

To contact writer Travis Fain, call 744-4213.