WASA commits to ‘study’ future rebate
PTC authority may use refinancing savings to reduce PTC sewer bills
The Peachtree City Water and Sewer Authority has pledged to study whether it can offer a “rebate” to its ratepayers utilizing the annual savings from its recently-refinanced bonds.
The authority voted unanimously Monday night to explore the matter in September at the end of its fiscal year so the savings can be included in WASA’s annual budget discussions.
Authority member Phil Mahler was vehement that the savings should be passed along to ratepayers, but WASA General Manager Stephen Hogan warned of a potential upcoming pipe repair list that could cost more than $2.8 million, although spread out over an undetermined length of time.
Undeterred, Mahler pressed on, arguing that with the savings from the bond of approximately $220,000 a year, WASA could divvy that money among its 10,534 customers to the tune of $20.78 a year or $1.73 a month over 12 months.
“At least that way ratepayers will know that you care about them,” Mahler said.
New authority member John Harrell said he was concerned if ratepayers would realize they were saving a dollar or more on each of their monthly bills, but he also understood that the move would create “good will.”
New authority member Terry Garlock said he was more worried about $1.1 million being moved from a debt service reserve fund, which is no longer needed due to the refinancing, to the authority’s “renewal and extension” capital projects fund. Hogan explained that when the authority several years ago had to create the debt reserve fund on an emergency basis, it took the money from the renewal and extension fund.
“I understand, but it’s money the authority learned to live without for a while,” Garlock said.
Hogan also noted it has been a long time since the authority has made any significant repairs or upgrades to the sewer collection system or treatment plants in a number of years.
The collection system pipe repairs Hogan referred to are being discovered by video-camera enabled robots that have been inspecting the entire sewer collection system. Although the latest estimate for the repairs is upwards of $2.8 million, that is expected to change as the inspection process is not yet fully complete, Hogan told the authority.
The authority raised its rates in October 2010 by about $20 for most residential customers in response to budget problems caused in part by the drought which resulted in a revenue crunch as water restrictions prevented intensive lawn watering. WASA board members were excoriated by several council members over the rate increase, and behind the scenes council investigated the possibility of retaking control of the sewer system from the authority, although that idea was ultimately nixed.