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Buford to raise price of water

BUFORD - Residents here from both inside and outside the city limits who purchase water from the city of Buford will be paying more for that service for the first time in 34 years beginning Feb. 1.

Under a new residential water rate schedule approved by the Buford City Council on Tuesday night at its first meeting of the new year, water customers will be paying 2.5 cents more per 1,000 gallons of water used, as the rate goes from $1.125 to $1.15 cents per thousand.

According to Mayor Phillip Beard, the new rates are part of the Water Supply and Water Conservation Management Plan implemented by the state Legislature for municipalities and counties who furnish water in Georgia. Buford and Gwinnett County are the only two governmental entities in the county who sell water.

"This rate was as little as we can raise to get us by the regulations, according to the engineers," Beard said.

About 80 percent of the city's water customers use less than 8,000 gallons per month. The new plan calls for those living inside the city limits to pay about 20 cents more per month, and those outside the city limits about 40 cents more.

It's projected by city officials that the water revenues will go from $273,417.20 to $291,519.25 per year, an increase of 6.62 per cent.

The purpose of the new rate structure, according to Beard, was to penalize big water users. The water conservation program, he said, also calls for the upgrading of the city's water plant. The program was implemented to encourage quality water and ample supplies in the metro area.

"The goal of the water conservation program is to reduce water use without being punitive," according to the plan. To meet 2030 conservation goals, the utilities in the program should implement at least a three-tiered rate structure for 2006. For instance, single-family residential winter use typically would be about 200 gallons per account per day or 6,000 gallons per account per month. The highest 5 to 10 percent of customers, who typically use 10 to 20 per cent of the total volume of water used, would be charged 200 percent of the billing rate for the low users.

The last time water rates were raised in the city was March, 1973.

In other action, the city council:

•approved the low bids on Electrical Department bucket trucks.

•approved an agreement with Griffin Power for a 2007 electrical reserve capacity requirement.

•approved a force account agreement with Gwinnett County for relocation of gas lines at Old Fountain and Old Peachtree Roads.

•tabled a consideration of vehicle and pedestrian easements going in and out of Jackson Street, pending a discussion with interested parties.

•denied a zoning modification from Volkswagen of America.