• 66°

Aldermen must correct water, sewer rate error

The Brookhaven Board of Aldermen will have to re-approve newwater and sewer rates next week after a typographical error wasfound in the rate schedule authorized last week by the board.

“The board will have to act again,” said City Clerk Iris RudmanMonday.

Engineer Derrick Tucker said he will appear at next week’s boardmeeting to explain the oversight, which inadvertently lowered theminimum water usage total by 1,000 gallons. Instead of exceedingthe minimum usage at 4,000 gallons, city water users would moveinto a higher rate bracket at 3,000 gallons, according to theincorrect rate schedule.

“It does impact people,” Tucker said.

In the new rate schedule, the minimum monthly fee, $7.15 forwater and $3 for sewer, does not change.

Above the minimum, customers pay an additional fee for every1,000 gallons of water used. Depending the amount, the combinedwater and sewer fees are increasing between 35 cents and $2.75 forevery 1,000 gallons.

The error in the rate schedule approved last week meanscustomers would have started paying the additional fee when theypassed 3,000 gallons instead of 4,000.

The new rates were to go into effect Oct. 1, but City AttorneyJoe Fernald said the board vote has to be redone and that woulddelay implementation a month. He said a typographical error such asa misspelled word would not have affected plans, but an errordealing with the fees a person pays is a material change.

“Materiality is the critical factor,” Fernald said.

According to a water department survey, almost all of the city’scustomers will either not see an increase or fall within the ratebracket that will have a 35 cents per 1,000 gallon fee increase.Based on 7,000-9,000 gallon usage, Tucker told aldermen last weekthat the average customer will see an increase of about $1.80 to $2a month.

Water department totals show the city with approximately 4,800customers.

Of those, 4,321 customers used less than 10,000 gallons duringthe month surveyed. The number using less than the 4,000 gallonminimum was unavailable.

Five water department customers, primarily industries, used morethan 500,000 gallons of water. Any customer using more than amillion gallons will see a combined water and sewer increase of 65cents per 1,000 gallons and a customer using more than two milliongallons a month will see the maximum increase of $2.75 for everyone thousand gallons.

Tucker said the new rate schedule is expected to generate anadditional $225,000 a year in revenue. He said that is needed tocover personal, operation and maintenance expenses and a 20 percentreserve fund required when the city used a bond issue to providewater and sewer services to a new industry.