Houston & Peach

Byron increases water and sewer rates

elegraph correspondent

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Water and sewer rates will go up for residents and commercial customers in January.

City Council members voted unanimously to raise rates on the recommendation of the city’s utility committee. The council raised rates by similar amounts in May 2015.

Councilman Michael Chidester said in a regular council meeting Monday that rates must regularly be reviewed and adjusted because of requirements of a Georgia Environmental Finance Authority loan the city is using to fund fixing an unwanted water inflow problem in the city’s water system.

Chidester has said in the past the inflow problem will continue to cost water and sewer customers money either through fines levied against the city stemming from the inflow problem or through costs related to getting it fixed.

However, Chidester said Monday because of the lack of rain in recent months resulting in little or no unwanted water inflow into the system, workers have been unable to identify or measure unwanted water, and repair efforts have been slow.

Based on council member comments and city documents, residential rates for 1,000 gallons of water will go up $1 to $5 per thousand gallons for water and sewer. A monthly RS fee, or ready service fee, will go up 50 cents to $8 a month for water and sewer.

For commercial customers, RS fees go up 50 cents a month for water and sewer, and the water and sewer rate per thousand gallons goes up $1 with final fees depending on the size water pipe connection businesses have.

Other water service rates, such as bulk water to farmers and to fill swimming pools, have likewise been raised by 50 cents or $1 per thousand gallons depending on type use.

New billing information is available from the city’s water and sewer department.

Among other business at the meeting, council unanimously approved rezoning a parcel of land west of Interstate 75 and to the south of Ga. 49 behind a string of restaurants and other commercial properties.

The land parcel is listed as 500 N. Ga. 49, and zoning was changed from commercial to residential for multi-family dwellings.

Andy Blalock of Blalock Properties, LLC, of Macon said he intends to put apartments and town homes on the property.

Documents show entry off Ga. 49 will be from the existing Storage Way through the road’s cul-de-sac into a new street for the complex. He said the new apartment flats and town homes would be in two story buildings and “nicer, high-end rental units.”

Blalock said he is in the project long-term and wants long-term single, couple and family residents. He said he has with similar projects in Macon.

He said the complex would open as a gated community.

Answering council members’ questions, Blalock said the first phase of the project should see about 40 units built, but in later phases the number could rise to 100 units built.

No time frame or projected cost for the project was given, though after announcing the rezoning measure had passed, Mayor Larry Collins added a hearty, “Dig!” as an exhortation aimed at Blalock.