City of Valdosta water customers will soon see an average 5% increase to their water and sewer rates, based on water consumption and size of water meter, with a minimum increase of $1.40. The increase, effective July 1, 2012, will be reflected in the August utility bills and will offset rising operating costs.
Rate increases are fair and equitable among both residential and commercial customers. All water and sewer customers will see a minimum $0.70 increase in the water rate and a $0.70 increase in the sewer rate based on a 5/8 inch water meter (average residential home), for a total increase of $1.40 per month on their utility bill. These rate increases will vary according to the size of their water meter and how much water customers use.
For residential customers who use 500 CF (3,750 gallons) or less of water per month, the city has established a lifeline rate for basic residential needs. These customers will not see an increase in consumption rates and will only see the $1.40 increase on their monthly utility bill. Water customers who use more than 500 CF of water will see a slight increase in the consumption rate depending on how much water they use and size of their water meter.
In recent years, the city has implemented an annual 5% rate increase to meet rising operating costs, such as fuel, electricity, materials, chemicals, etc. Customers can expect to see the annual rates increase each July for the next five years to cover increased expenses including loan repayments, replacement and repair costs associated with current and future infrastructure needs, among other expenses associated with maintaining the city’s water and sewer systems.
Annual Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) revenues have had a major positive impact in keeping Valdosta’s utility rates low. Continued utilization of SPLOST funding is necessary to keep rates affordable and below peer communities. If SPLOST funds were not available, rates would have to increase at least another 37% to maintain the needs of the city’s water and sewer systems.
The City of Valdosta’s water and sewer rates have consistently been among the lowest in the state. Even with the gradual rate increases to be phased in over the next five years, Valdosta’s rates will still be at or below the average water and sewer bill with our comparison communities (see figure below). However, most to all of them will likely need to raise their rates as well for the same reasons over this same period. A strong and healthy water and sewer system is a key component of successful economic development.
Water conservation remains the key in keeping utility bills low. Customers can save by conserving water inside the home and limiting irrigation and other outdoor uses. The Outdoor Water Use Schedule, described in City of Valdosta Ordinance 2011-1, allows daily outdoor watering for purposes of planting, growing, managing, or maintaining ground cover, trees, shrubs, or other plants before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. on days dictated by the citizen’s home address. No outdoor watering should occur during the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., which is typically the hottest part of the day.
Outdoor watering will be allowed on odd/even days as follows: Odd-numbered addresses can water on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Even-numbered and unnumbered addresses are allowed to water on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. No outdoor watering for the above stated purposes will be allowed on Sundays. All citizens are strongly encouraged to conserve and use irrigation water sparingly during the prescribed time periods.
The city expects inquiries regarding the water and sewer rate increase, and will answer every call as promptly as possible. For more information, call the Utilities Department at (229) 259-3592 or the Public Information Office at (229) 259-3548. Citizens may also view the new rate schedules on the Utilities Department homepage at www.valdostacity.com.