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Water rates rising in the city?

When residents in the city turn on their faucets in October, it could be costing them a bit more.

Madison Utilities General Manager Ricky Pounders unveiled the 2011 proposed budget during a work session Aug. 31, and the budget calls for a water rate increase to meet the needs of the department.

The proposed water rate increase will go from $16.70 to $18.70, based on 5,000 gallons usage, with sewer rates rising from $3 to $5 and wastewater rates rising from $22.35 to $25.10.

On average, the rate increase will be approximately $5 per household.

The budget will be presented at the next board meeting Sept. 20, and the rate increase will go into effect, if passed, Oct. 1.

Pounders said the department hasn’t raised rates since 2006, and revenues have dwindled since the drought of 2007.

In addition, Pounders said the falling revenues have delayed work on several capital projects.

“We have basically postponed and tabled critical projects we need to get moving on,” Pounders said. “This will allow us to start moving in that direction.”

The department has also begun testing the water quality at the rock quarry, which could provide 1 million gallons for the city if it passes inspection.

However, since the drought, Pounders said more and more people are conserving water, which could delay the need for a plant at the river for several more years.

“If you could rewind to 2007, people started conserving water because of the drought, and those people have kept those same habits, which is not bad at all.” Pounders said. “It’s not all bad news.”

The 2011 budget projects $12 million in expenses, with $12,117,334 in revenues with the new increase.

The new budget also eliminates discounts for the city and the city school system.

Despite the projected increase, another rate hike could be in the works if the revenues do not meet the department’s needs.

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