Public hearing focuses on Pelham water rates

The Pelham City Council held a public hearing on Oct. 6 to discuss potential changes to city water and sewer rates. (File)

The Pelham City Council held a public hearing on Oct. 6 to discuss potential changes to city water and sewer rates. (File)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

PELHAM—The Pelham City Council held a public hearing on Oct. 6 to discuss possible changes to the city’s water and sewer rates. The potential changes, introduced during a Sept. 22 Water Board meeting, include an increase in water costs and a decrease in sewer costs.

The possible water rate increase would follow a “two-tiered rate system, one for in city and one for out of city” customers, Pelham City Council President Rick Hayes explained.

Currently, all Pelham water customers pay a base monthly rate of $13 for the first 3,000 gallons of water, and $3.13 for every additional 1,000 gallons. The proposed rate increase will raise the base monthly rate for out of city customers to $15 and $3.80 for every additional 1,000 gallons used. In city customers will not see a change in their base rate, however, each additional 1,000 gallons of water used will cost $3.30.

“Thirty five percent of all customers today would stay the same because they (pay) the base rate and they don’t (use) over that (initial 3,000 gallons),” Hayes said.

One resident asked why there was a need for a water rate increase in Pelham.

“One of the key things that drove this was the Shelby County water increase,” Hayes said, referencing a five-year series of seven percent increases in the cost of Shelby County water. “It’s a significant hit to our budget, we buy 30 to 35 percent of our water from Shelby County, as it is today.”

Another resident asked when rates changes could be expected to go into effect.

“We don’t have a date on it yet,” Hayes said, although he added the “intent is to have it for the next meeting,” however he noted the Oct. 6 discussion was merely a public hearing and a “chance (for the City Council) to get public feedback.”

One resident raised concern about existing PVC pipe waterlines and water main breaks.

Hayes noted the city’s fiscal year 2015 budget included $250,000 to make improvements to existing water infrastructure.

“We will go to the experts to decide where the most high priority areas are,” Hayes said.

In addition to the water rate increase, Pelham water and sewer customers could see a decrease in sewer costs. Although the base rate of $24.30 for the first 3,000 gallons of sewer water will not change, the charge for every additional 1,000 gallons could fall from $7.30 to $6.

“We will still have the best water rates… in the area,” Hayes said, noting even with the potential changes, Pelham water rates will remain low in comparison to neighboring cities. “This will make us competitive on the sewer rate side as well.”