Water and Sewer Rate Increase Proposed at Aiken City Council Meeting | local government

Residents of the town of Aiken may soon see an increase in their water and sewer rates.

The increase, which is believed to be 7%, is not taken lightly, Aiken City Manager Stuart Bedenbaugh said at the Aiken City Council business session on Monday.

The increased funds would go into a system sinking fund for the city’s new water plant, which is a fund that is used to maintain the system or for eventual repayment of tickets or bonds for the plant, Bedenbaugh said.

An average household would see its bill go up by $2.46 a month, Bedenbaugh said, or just under $30 a year.

The proposal was presented strictly for discussion purposes and no action has been taken regarding an increase. It would be presented in the form of an ordinance in two readings, with public debate, at an upcoming meeting of the city council.

The new water plant is expected to cost around $42 million, with construction beginning by mid-2023, according to Bedenbaugh.

The new water plant would be located near the city’s existing water plant at Shaws Creek and U.S. Highway 1.

Next year’s budget is balanced without this rate increase, Bedenbaugh said, so all funds would go into amortizing the system.

At the March 14 city council meeting, council passed an ordinance on second reading to issue “tax bonds, specifically anticipated bonds, of $4.5 million to continue planning, engineering and project design”.

Bedenbaugh said it’s also possible for Aiken to get money for the project at the state level, and the city doesn’t expect to borrow the full $42 million.

The council is also considering raising the price of its solid waste collection to $25.21 per month from the current $20.38, which was discussed at the April 11 council business meeting.

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This increase is proposed due to rising fuel costs, inflation and recycling being transported to North Augusta.

Lex Kirkland, the city’s director of utilities, said at the April 11 meeting that his department doesn’t take the increases lightly, but they’re needed right now.

No increase in stormwater rates is proposed, per Bedenbaugh, nor will there be a mileage increase for the next fiscal year.

Bedenbaugh also specifically said that if these increases become a reality, none of the funds will go to Project Pascalis, Aiken’s downtown revitalization project. Questions have been asked to that effect by residents, Bedenbaugh said.

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