White Hall council looks for input on rate hike

Published 10:05 am Tuesday, August 9, 2011

By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal

The White Hall Town Council wants to give the public a chance to communicate with it at its next meeting concerning a possible water rate increase.

At Thursday night’s council meeting, in the absence of Council member Peggy Johnson, the council agreed to hold a public meeting on a possible increase in water rates during its regular Thursday, Sept. 1 meeting at 7 p.m.

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A water rate study by the Alabama Rural Water Association has been completed and the town has received a recommendation that the rate be increased $2.34 per month from $16 to $18.34, according to Mayor Elizabeth Davis.

The last time the rate was increased was two years ago, said Davis, when the rate was increased from $14 to $16 on the flat rate including 4,000 gallons of water.

She said the Alabama Department of Environmental Management recommended a rate increase for the town to maintain its water system. She said it was also suggested that the flat rate be for 2,000 gallons of water.

Davis said a current application for “loan/grant” from the United States Department of Agriculture for a new water well is pending.

Council member Water Bates said a lot of White Hall residents are on Social Security and other general assistance. He said the council would need to take into consideration the income of citizens, “Whether they can afford to pay rather than just put the price up.”

Council member Audrey Peterson asked if there was deadline to raise the rates.

Davis said, “No, we don’t have a deadline date.” However, she said, “It has bearing on whether or not we can get the grants and things that we require because what they look at is our ability to pay back.”

Council member Moses Bandy said, “We do consider peoples’ inability to pay… But on the other hand, how are we going to meet our deficits if we don’t increase it (the water rate)?”

Peterson said there should be public notification and “hear them” and then come back “and do our vote and then go from there and publicize it if we make a decision.”

Davis said the recommended rate is less than other rates around. She said it is based on 406 customers.

In another matter, it was pointed out during the meeting that a burn permit from the town of White Hall “does not” override a no burn order from the state.

Mayor Davis said a consultant is continuing to work on a Safe Routes to School Project for the town in hopes that the town can receive some funds.

The council also approved the minutes of the last meeting and adjourned.