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City raises water rates
Increases set for June 2010, 11
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Forsyth County News
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Also Tuesday night, Cumming City Council approved the following contracts for work on the aquatic center:

• The Circle Group will handle drywall work for about $113,000.

• Flooring, including rubber and tile surfaces, went to Spectra for about $132,500.

• Overhead Door Co. of Atlanta was the lone bidder on large metal doors, though the $19,000 price tag was considered fair by Winter Construction, which is handling the project.

• Tebarco Door & Metal Services will handle other doors, frames and hardware for about $125,600.

• In addition, council approved a work order for nearly $2.6 million. Some of the money will go toward meeting environmental protection requirements, while the majority will be for site work on the new Department of Driver Services facility next to the aquatic center. Council also agreed to request bids for that facility.

— Jennifer Sami
The cost of water and sewer services will rise June 1 for city of Cumming customers.

A second increase will take effect a year later.

City officials unanimously approved the moves to help restore reserves, which have been depleted after about $60 million in recent water infrastructure improvements.

“We’re trying to be good stewards because the citizens of the area own the system,” said Jon Heard, city utilities director.

“We’re trying to manage their money and their system so they have a system that’s self-supporting and that their rates are kept low.”

Beginning June 1, water bills will reflect a 32-cent increase in the base rate, plus an additional 32 cents per every 1,000 gallons used. The same jump will take place in June 2011.

Bills last went up 40 cents in January 2009.

According to a Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District study, the city’s water rates are among the lowest in the metro Atlanta area.

For an average, or 7,000-gallon monthly water bill, Cumming residents pay about $46.75, among the lowest in the district.

For the same use, Gwinnett residents pay more than $64 and Roswell residents nearly $80. Woodstock residents pay more than $93 for that amount, while those in Atlanta see bills of more than $127.

“Regionally, we’re very low,” Heard said. “You can find lower rates than us, but in the classification that we’re in — of being a growing, expanding community that still has quite a bit of growth to go — then we’re really at least one of the lowest around Atlanta.”

Following the city’s 2009 rate hike, the county followed suit, raising rates about $7 a month on average.

County water customers, on average, pay about $61 a month for about 7,000 gallons of water and sewage.

Municipal water customers living in Cumming pay about $38.40 a month, while those living outside city limits pay $43.50 a month.

Those rates will increase by about $4.16 this year, and another $4.16 in June 2011.

Heard suggested the full 64-cent increase take effect this June, but Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt decided to split the increase over two years.

“I don’t want to hit our citizens” with too much of an increase all at once, said Gravitt, noting that “every dollar in hard economic times hurts.”