City proposes sewer, water rate increase at dismay of homeowners

For close to 15 minutes, David Lamb gave South Fulton, Tennessee, leaders an earful on why he doesn’t support paying more for water and sewer.

"You going to come back next year and tell us that we’re going to have to increase our sewer?" he asked Mayor Ed Cassetty.

Lamb has lived in town for more than 30 years and said the city’s plan to increase services needs some detailed explaining. "Just like any other citizen in South Fulton, wondering why they are going to have to go up," he told Local 6.

Cassetty outlined two major reasons for the increase: To keep the city’s water and sewer departments financially afloat and to make upgrades to the city’s infrastructure. "We are not going to be able to continue meeting our present financial needs unless we take some kind of preventative action," the told the crowd.

Under the city’s proposals, water rates could increase 8 percent. Sewer rates could increase 22 percent, leaving families to pay $10.72 more a month for water and $11.37 more, on average, for sewer. The final percentage increase has not been determined. 

The city has applied for state grants in the past to help offset costs, but Cassetty believes the city can no longer rely on outside money.  He said the city has not seen significant rate increases since 1994.  "With grants becoming more difficult to secure, we cannot be absolutely sure about anything in the future," Cassetty said.

It’s that uncertainty that makes people like Lamb think about those who may not be able to afford it. "You maybe can afford it. I may possibly can afford it. I can’t guarantee that but, how are they going to pay for it?" Lamb asked.

The city plans to meet again on Thursday, Jan. 21.

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