Shelby County water rates increasing in April

By CASSANDRA MICKENS/Associate Editor

COLUMBIANA — Shelby County Water System customers will see a price increase in their monthly bill starting in April after the Shelby County Commission approved a five-year rate increase plan following a brief public hearing Feb. 10.

With no public members present to speak, commissioners unanimously approved the rate increase plan, which was first introduced Jan. 28. Water customers currently pay an average of $20.48 per month for a minimum of 3,000 gallons. The monthly charge will jump to $24.82 for 3,000 gallons in April. By April 2018, the charge will rise to $34.45. Customers will see the new rates when they receive their bills in May.

County officials say the rate increase will help with a $2.75 million shortfall in operating revenue for the water system.

“One of the components of our water system and our water financing plan is the plan to refinance and we will be going through that during the first quarter of 2015,” Shelby County Manager Alex Dudchock said at the public hearing held during the commission’s regular meeting Feb. 10.

County officials tapped Montgomery-based Jackson Thornton Utilities Consultants to conduct a cost of service study, which determined the rate increase. According to the study, the water system’s annual needed revenue is $10.3 million, but current revenues total $7.2 million. About $3.4 million of annual needed revenue is debt service payment for the Shelby County South Water Treatment Plant in Wilsonville.

Currently, the county uses reserve funds, as well as other sources, to cushion the shortfall. County officials says the rate increase will make the water system more self-sufficient, adding that the five-year increase is more palatable to the public at large as opposed to a larger one-time increase.

Starting in April, the minimum monthly charge will be $20.68 for the first 2,000 gallons, and $4.14 per each additional 1,000 gallons. Wholesale costs will be $3 per 1,000 gallons.

In April 2015, the minimum monthly charge will be to $20.80 for the first 1,500 gallons, and $4.18 per each additional 1,000 gallons. Wholesale costs will be $3.21 per 1,000 gallons.

In April 2016, the minimum monthly charge will be $21.10 for the first 1,000 gallons, and $4.22 per each additional 1,000 gallons. Wholesale costs will be $3.43 per 1,000 gallons.

In April 2017, the minimum monthly charge will be $21.31 for the first 500 gallons, and $4.27 per each additional 1,000 gallons. Wholesale costs will be $3.67 per 1,000 gallons.

In April 2018, the minimum monthly charge will be $21.52 with no water included. Customers will buy water at $4.31 per 1,000 gallons. Wholesale costs will be $3.93 per 1,000 gallons.