Calera raising water rates

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Calera water board voted last Tuesday to raise customer rates 20 percent to pay for an $8 million bond that will be used to build a new water filtration plant.

Due to elevated coliform bacteria levels and cloudy water, the Alabama Department of Emergency Management has required the city to have a filtration plant operational by October 2007.

The bond will pay for the construction of the plant on Shelby County 107, as well as the salaries for its five certified operators, who will earn between $20-23 an hour.

&8220;In order to meet our needs and future needs we need to do this,&8221; said City Councilman Bobby Phillips, who is also chairman of the water board. &8220;If we don&8217;t do what we set out to do, we&8217;ll have to go back later. This should take care of all our water needs.&8221;

A portion of the money will also be used to build a filtration system at Lafarge limestone quarry off Alabama 25 and construct new water lines and upgrade existing lines throughout the city.

John Wilson, a bond lawyer with Merchant Capital, said the average home, using 6,000 gallons a month, will see a $5.59 increase.

&8220;Their bill would go from $27.97 to $33.56,&8221; said Wilson.

When the increases go into effect Oct. 1, Phillips says that customers using lower amounts of water won&8217;t be affected too much.

&8220;This increase is not as much as we thought it would be,&8221; said Phillips. &8220;People on fixed incomes using small amounts of water won&8217;t even see the increase.&8221;

The board also decided to increase rates each October (starting in 2007) to be in line with the city&8217;s cost-of-living raise. Phillips said the increases will help the system keep up with Calera&8217;s growth.

City Clerk Linda Steele said that the city hasn&8217;t raised water rates in six years. &8220;We&8217;ve had no increase since 2000,&8221; said Steele. &8220;Had we had a cost of living increase we would be where we are now with the 20 percent.&8221;

The city has 30 years to repay the bond.