Columbiana to raise utility rates

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 7, 2006

Columbiana city officials were scheduled to approve two ordinances during the city&8217;s Tuesday night council meeting that will raise the city&8217;s sewer and garbage rates.

The city will raise sewer rates for residential customers in Columbiana from around $11 to around $14 a month. In addition, rates for garbage collection will go up from and average of $14 a month to $16.50.

Both rates are effective beginning Oct. 1.

Columbiana City Planner and Public Works Director Hilry King said the rate hikes are an effort to combat a $46,000 deficit in revenue from the two utilities.

King told the Columbiana city council at a work session last month that the increase would help the city avoid having to pull funds from other areas to keep the two utilities running.

In the past, the city has used funds from its sales tax revenue to cover costs.

King also noted that the city&8217;s sewer and garbage reserve fund amounts to $117,000 &8212; a number he would like to see go up.

&8220;We have to have the reserve in case of emergencies,&8221; King said. &8220;We need work on increasing it.&8221;

Columbiana Mayor Allan Lowe said the rate increases are necessary to help the city balance its 2007 budget and continue to provide quality service to its customers.

&8220;We need to do this now in order to make good budget predictions for the upcoming year,&8221; Lowe said during the August work session. &8220;We&8217;re the last city in the county that offers backyard service. We need to hang on to that as long as we can.&8221;

Lowe said the city would continue to offer eight garbage pickups per month for its customers and also accept larger trash such as tree limbs and brush