Rate changes proposed for Augusta water bills

AUGUSTA,Ga (WJBF) - The Mansfields were running up their water bill, while at the same time running down the water billing system, saying it needs some changes. 

"It certainly does, the fact is our sewage bill is so high when a lot of our water usage is outside," said Arleigh Mansfield. 

The Utilities Department agrees tweaks are needed, and before a commission work session unveiled a  new rate structure plan, but say this would not mean higher bills for everyone. 

"Some will see a significant decrease, some will see some increase but it's designed to be revenue neutral we we're just trying to fix some quirks in our rate structure," said Tom Wiedmeier Utilities Department Director.

One big problem area is with sewer bills, where the cost jumps more than $23 dollars when customers go from 3 thousand gallons to four. This generates a lot of complaints and something the department says needs to be leveled out. 

"We're going to propose getting rid of that jump, flattening that out so it's a more consistent rise as you use more water and consequently sewer it will be a much less," said Wiedmeier. 

This is the first time the three commissioners who attended this work session have seen this rate structure plan but say it seems to do most customers more good than harm. 

"Once you get to one, two, the price is lower, four, five, the price is lower than they are currently paying so four out of five ain't bad," said Commissioner Ben Hasan. 

This could be good news for the Mansfields when it comes to their future sewer bills. 

"You've seen that jump before on your sewer bill?" I asked.

 "I think we have," said Arleigh. 

 "Does that make you happy?"

 "Not exactly," she said. 

The proposal would keep in place the annual three percent increase on water bills but does away with the 3000 gallon minimum so now customers who use one or two thousand gallons a month will see their bills go down. The commission must still give final approval.

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