Alabaster OKs rise in residential, commercial sewer tap fees

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – Sewer tap fees for new residential and commercial buildings in Alabaster will see a rise, after the City Council voted to approve the matter during a March 27 meeting. A tap fee is a one-time fee charged when customers connect to the city’s sewer system for the first time, and will not affect monthly sewer rates.

Council members Greg Farrell, Russell Bedsole, Rick Ellis and Council President Scott Brakefield voted in favor of the new tap fees, while council members Sophie Martin, Kerri Pate and Stacy Rakestraw were absent from the meeting.

The vote came after a public hearing, during which no residents spoke for or against the matter

Council members discussed the matter during a recent work session, during which Alabaster Director of Environmental Services Glen McCord presented information comparing the city’s current sewer tap fees with surrounding cities. McCord said the city’s residential tap fee was comparable to surrounding municipalities, but said the commercial tap fee was significantly lower.

Previously, Alabaster charged a flat $3,000 sewer tap fee whenever a residential or commercial building tapped on to the city’s sewer system.

As a result of the new tap fee structure, the residential tap fee is now a $3,500 flat rate, and the commercial tap fee is now $3,500 for the first 12 fixtures. Tap fees for additional commercial fixtures are now $250 apiece.

Fixtures include items such as sinks, toilets, outside water faucets and more.

“This is for new construction only. It will not affect current rates at all,” Farrell said.

McCord said the increased tap fees will help fund needed upgrades and maintenance in the city’s wastewater treatment system, such as equipping the city’s 53 pump stations with diesel sewage backup pumps to use in emergencies, replacement of dated terra cotta sewage mains, replacing dated manholes and upgrading the wastewater treatment plant.

“Also, increased funding will allow the expansion of the pump station upgrade program,” McCord said. “It should be noted that Alabaster team members perform all pump station upgrades which is the exception rather than the rule for municipalities. Because the work is done in-house the citizens tax dollars are stretched beyond recognition.”