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Springfield looking at increase for sewer fees
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Sewer fees for city of Springfield customers also appear to be on the rise.

An ordinance to revise the city’s sewer rates is expected to be adopted at the city council’s meeting Wednesday night. The city’s sewer rates will go up to a $15.60 base per residential and commercial customers inside the city limits up to 2,000 gallons, with an additional $3.12 for every 1,000 gallons over 2,000 gallons.

For a home or business that uses 5,000 gallons a month, the bill go up $8.96 to $24.96 a month.

The city re-financed its Georgia Environmental Finance Authority loans with bonds through Merchant Capital.

“We saved a substantial amount of money when we re-financed our GEFA loans,” City Manager Brett Bennett said.

The new rates, Bennett said, are a result of state and federal rules with which the city had to comply.

“All of this expense was mandated by EPD,” Mayor Barton Alderman said.

Added council member Charles Hinely: “The EPD was riding herd hard on this bunch. We had to do what we did.”

The city’s interest on the 20-year bonds is 2.925 percent. It had an interest rate of 4.127 percent on its 20-year GEFA loan. The difference in interest rates is expected to save the city $667,000 in debt service. The city’s GEFA loan costs would have totaled $8.55 million over 20 years, with $2.7 million in interest.

As a revenue bond, the city can pay back its loan through water-sewer service receipts. Had council members approved a general obligation bond, property tax revenues could have been pledged to cover the loan.

Merchant Capital also asked that the city increase its water and sewer revenue by 28 percent. Because the majority of the loan is going toward the city’s sewer infrastructure, Bennett recommended that the sewer rates carry the bulk of that needed increase. The city has about $5.5 million in sewer debt and about $1 million in water debt.

The current rates were adopted in May 2007, after being unchanged for 11 years.

For customers outside the city limits, the base charge will be $31.20 up to 2,000 gallons, with an additional $3.90 per 1,000 gallons used above the 2,000-gallon threshold.

Bennett also proposed another option, with customers inside the city limits being charged $6 per every 1,000 gallons used, and customers outside the city paying $7.50 for every 1,000 gallons of sewer capacity used.