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City considering rate increase
Water, sewer fees could be adjusted
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Also Monday night, the Dawsonville City Council:

• Tabled for six months a request by Hi-5 Consulting representative Nancy Twyman to annex about 5 acres at Hwy. 9 and Thayer Ridge Road.

City Attorney Dana Miles said approving the request would create an unincorporated island, which is not permitted in Georgia.

Dawson County commissioners also have objected to the request for the same reason.

Miles said tabling the matter could give the applicant an opportunity to resolve the issue with the affected property owner.

• Voted to pay off one of two loans on the municipal complex. Early payoff of the remaining $268,000 note will save the city an estimated $68,000, according to City Clerk Bonnie Warne.

The funds will come from the city's $1.3 million general operating account. The loan was set to be paid off in 2025. Warne said there is no prepayment penalty. With the vote, the council also approved amending the city's 2012 budget to reflect the payment.

• Awarded a special event permit that allows the Pit Stop, a restaurant in the Food Lion shopping center, to expand its patio Oct. 27 to accompany the expected increase in business from the Mountain Moonshine Festival.

• Accepted an audit presentation by Brian St. Pierre that noted the city's finances are in good shape.

• Issued proclamations for National Down Syndrome Awareness Month and Retired Educators Day.

• Approved training for City Clerk Bonnie Warne and Mayor James Grogan.

- Michele Hester

Dawsonville water and sewer customers could see a slight rate increase in the coming months.

According to a study presented Monday night by engineer Ben Turnipseed, the city "needs to adjust water and sewer rates" to "meet revenue needs."

"The existing rate structure ... does not cover the cost of service," he said, citing changes in the economy, particularly fewer tap fees from construction that previously had helped support costs.

Mayor James Grogan said the city trails other municipal utility providers by not addressing water and sewer rates on an annual basis.

"We've actually gotten behind in the last four to five years," he said.

"We fell behind when everybody else might have been moving up. We just stayed where we were at. That's the reason for doing this at this time."

The city's last sewer rate increase was in 2006. For water, it was in 2008.

Turnipseed recommended at least a 15 percent increase, which would mean water rates for residential customers using less than 1,500 gallons each month would go from about $15 to $17.25 per month.

The rate for customers averaging 1,500 to 5,000 gallons monthly would increase from nearly $21 to about $24.50.

He suggested a similar rate increase for sewer services.

The proposed increase would generate a projected $239,562 in revenue annually.

The council took no action on the matter, but plans to revisit the issue in the coming months.

Grogan also suggested staff review the city's bond payments to see if savings could be achieved by refinancing.