Pelham could change water, sewer fee structure

Published 8:55 pm Monday, April 29, 2013

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

The Pelham City Council likely will decide during its May 6 meeting if it will modify the way the city calculates its residential water and sewer rates, Mayor Gary Waters said during an April 29 Water Board meeting.

During the meeting Waters encouraged the City Council to vote in favor of the new rate plan. All City Council members are also members of the Pelham Water Board.

If the plan is passed, the city will calculate residents’ water and sewer rates based on the average amount of water the resident uses from October-March each year.

Waters said the plan would benefit residential customers who frequently water their yards during the summer months by not inflating their water and sewer bills during those months.

“We are not changing the cost of a gallon of water, we are changing how we calculate the rates,” Waters said. “We are only going to charge what it costs to run our (water and sewer) system.”

If passed, the plan will only apply to residential customers on the city’s water and sewer line.

“To consider trying to change the calculation of residential at the same time as commercial rates might be a stretch,” Waters said, noting he would like to take a “phased approach” toward possibly modifying commercial water and sewer rates in the future.

Passing the residential rate calculation change likely will reduce the city’s water and sewer revenues by between $100,000-$150,000, said Public Works Director Eddy Jowers.

Council President Rick Hayes previously said Pelham’s sewer rates were among the lowest in the Birmingham metropolitan area before a series of rate increases were passed by the City Council in 2009. Hayes said his water bill increased by “279 percent from 2009-2011.”

“I believe among our constituents, they are looking for us to do something,” Waters said. “I think this is a great first step.”

“I think we as a council should try and make sure none of our citizens are gouged by any of the increases we pass,” said Councilwoman Karyl Rice.