Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news for working families.

Lake City News

Lake City utility accessibility fees
Going the way of the dodo bird

Monday night's City Council meeting began at 6:15 with a short workshop and a few words from the city's utility consultants, Tetra Tech, regarding the proposed elimination of the city's utility accessibility fees.

Erick VanMalsssen from Tetra Tech
Eric VanMalssen from Tetra Tech presented three rate scenarios to the City Council and answered questions from them. City Administrator Grayson Cason is in the background.

The city's utility accessibility fees have been unpopular, controversial, and confusing for some time. After Wendell Johnson the new City Manager came on board, a new ear was listening. The public hearings to adopt the new utility rates and eliminate the accessibility fees should be held in December.

Some folks are paying up to $60,000 in fees

The accessibility fees are fees that the city charges everyone to keep the pipes in the street and pay for the infrastructure of the city utility facilities. If a customer turns off his water and shuts down his house or apartment, they still pay a fee. These fees amount to about forty dollars a month for a residence. Some apartment owners are paying up to sixty thousand dollars a year in accessibility fees for vacant apartments.

Tetra Tech's studies found that approximately 2% of the revenues of the city utility come from accessibility fees. After the fee is eliminated, the fee will be absorbed into the rate structure for active customers.

Utility director, Dave Clanton, is running the numbers to determine the turn-off-on charges for water meters.

According to the City, utility customers will see a notice about the new rates and times for the public hearing in their bills.

Columbia County residents who would like to see the city's way of doing things may wish to attend those hearings. It will be a refreshing experience from the way things are done across the street at the forever homeless County Commission.

Relevant Links for this story.

• The memo from Tetra Tech to utility director, Dave Clanton is here. The rate scenarios follow on the pages after the memo.

• For the curious and the policy wonks, the Tetra Tech power point presentation of the November 2, 2009 city utility rate study is available here.


Memo and rate scenarios
November 2, 2009 city utility rate study