Sewage rates increase approved in Fort Oglethorpe

Sewage rates increase approved in Fort Oglethorpe

December 13th, 2012 by Tim Omarzu in Local Regional News

Staff Photo by Allison Kwesell/Chattanooga Times Free Press - An interceptor sewer line that is paid for through city bonds is shown at West Chickamauga Creek on Cloud Springs Road in Fort Oglethorpe.

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Sewer bills will rise by about 5 to 6 percent in January for Fort Oglethorpe residents after a unanimous vote Monday by the City Council.

The rate hike is much milder than those in store for residents of East Ridge, Red Bank and other cities served by the Hamilton County Water & Wastewater Treatment Authority, which is raising customers' rates by 39 percent.

Still, a Fort Oglethorpe official said she expects to hear from residents about the hike.

"We get feedback if we go up 50 cents," Finance Director Pam Travillian said.

Part of the increase is due, Travillian said, to bonds Fort Oglethorpe sold in 2009 to finance sewer line construction. The city is required to increase rates by 5 percent for the first five years of the bonds' life, she said.

Chattanooga also increased the cost of treating sewage at Moccasin Bend in July by about 1 percent, she said.

WWTA customers who also use the Moccasin Bend plant are seeing soaring bills because of federally mandated repairs to aging sewer lines that now allow intrusion of stormwater.

Fort Oglethorpe has stayed on top of its sewer repairs and made gradual rate increases, City Manager Ron Goulart said.

"You do a little bit every year to maintain the status quo ... rather than letting it add up and billing everyone with one hit," he said.

Inside city limits:

• Residential monthly minimum bill for 2,000 gallons of water and sewer: Current, $26.20; New, $27.65; increase $1.45 or 5 percent.

• Commercial minimum bill: Current, $34.01; new, $35.88; increase $1.87 or 5 percent.

Outside city limits, sewage rates for residents who get water from the Catoosa Utility District:

• Residential monthly minimum sewage bill: Current, $17.54; New, $18.59; increase $1.05 or 6 percent.

• Commercial minimum bill: Current, $22.52; new, $23.87; increase $1.35 or 6 percent.

Outside city limits, sewage rates for residents who get water from Tennessee American:

• Residential monthly minimum sewage bill: Current, $17.95; New, $19; increase $1.05 or 6 percent.

• Commercial minimum bill: Current, $22.93; new, $24.28; increase $1.35 or 6 percent.

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6651.