City’s thriving, but water rates could rise in the future in Senoia

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Senoia Mayor Larry Owens delivered the city’s first state of the city address during Monday night’s meeting, and warned residents that water rates could be rising.

Overall, the city is in good financial shape and has increased the city’s general fund fund balance to more than $1.5 million or 53 percent of the funds total expenses. 

“It is generally believed that having a reserve of 20 percent is considered good, but it should be noted here that smaller cities with smaller budgets need larger percentages in reserve to cover costs,” said Owens. 

He said last year the revenues exceeded the expenses in the sewer fund by $47,000, but it was a different matter in the water department. 

“Water lost $177,000 in Fiscal Year 2014. The vast majority of the loss was the result a change in production at an industry in town that led to a significant reduction in potable water use in the process,” Owens explained.

He said in 2010 the city started a process to set a utility rate that would allow the funds to operate without developer contributions. This plan provided a very strong financial position and the city was able to absorb the loss and still meet all obligations.  “Unfortunately this cannot continue. The city engineer has been authorized to review the utility rates to create a rate sufficient to begin to recover this loss,” he said.  

The city has also started the process to meeting the requirements of stormwater management, after the city was notified in 2014 it would have to participate in the unfunded mandate.

“If the color of the lake last weekend and the amount of lily pads each spring are any indicator, it seems to me to be quite necessary that we start considering the quality of water we are releasing into the creeks and lakes. The city has taken all the correct steps to be in compliance with this federal mandate. However, the effects will have long reaching effects for the City, developers and residents. We are still trying to evaluate the budget impacts of the designation, but expect to have a good idea by the end of this year,” Owens said.  

The city has seen residential growth increase in the last year, but with the growth comes other issues.

“New residential development puts a higher demand on the city streets. Maintenance of the city streets is the responsibility of the Public Works Department.  Wear and tear issues are completed following a safety evaluation,” he added.

The city is also working hard at creating an active parks and recreation system to maintain the city’s high quality of life.

“In 2014, the city deeded 60 acres on Ga. Highway 16 to Coweta County for the development of new baseball, softball and multi-use fields. The fields should be available for use in spring 2017. The city is also developing plans to expand the multi-use trail system by connecting Ivy Lane to Seavy Street.  Application for right-of-way and construction funds were applied for in April. Finally, construction plans for improvements to Seavy Street Park, Marimac Lakes Park and trails to Cumberland Village and Stonebridge are completed and awaiting funding,” he added.