Thursday, July 21, 2005

HSUD releases rate requests

Staff Writer

Holly Springs utility customers may be looking at a rate increase in all four services - electricity, water, gas and sanitation. Rate increases will go into effect no later than the month of October, if approved by the board of aldermen.

Tennessee Valley Authority, producer of electricity for Holly Springs Utility Department (HSUD), announced in June it has approved a 7.52 percent wholesale rate increase for its distributors. New rates go into effect October 1 and are mandatory, according to D. Miller, accounts manager for HSUD.

HSUD has also requested rate increases for water, gas and sanitation, but the question of whether the board will authorize any rate increase in those three services is up in the air. The proposed increase to residential customers in water, gas and sanitation would raise the average residential customer’s utility bill from $26 to $30 a month. The new electricity rates will increase the average residential customer’s bill by about $7 a month.

Miller said HSUD wants the increase in water, sanitation and gas because water and sanitation cost the utility more to provide than the fees draw in.

Mayor Andre’ DeBerry has said he is in favor of “biting the bullet” and increasing fees for water, sanitation and gas this year and incrementally increasing rates yearly or every other year thereafter as needed.

Alderman Tim Liddy said he believes the board of aldermen knows it has to do something.

“They have been putting it off and putting it off and now we’ve got to do something,” he said. “But we want assurances from utility they will tighten their belt and cut expenses wherever they can.”

He said increases in gas, water and sanitation are going to be necessary sooner or later, but how much and when the rates go up are concerns of the board.

“It’s getting to the point where expenses are getting greater than income,” he said.

Liddy said if gas rates are raised, he favors doing it before winter so customers have time to adjust and think through their budgets.

“I think the mood of the board is, yes, we are going to have to do something, but the utility also has to show some savings,” he said. “We’ve got to do something and we’ve got to trust the people bringing information to us (HSUD management).”

The Holly Springs mayor and board of aldermen met Tuesday night of this week. It is possible rate hikes were further discussed, and a vote could have been taken. A report will follow in next week’s newspaper.

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