BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Customers of the Fannin County Water Authority (FCWA) were left wondering if their bills would see an increase after the city of Blue Ridge implemented a rate increase for wholesale customers.
The city of Blue Ridge increased their rates by $1.00 per 1,000 gallons of usage in June 2017. This increase affected all city water customers. The city announced recently that their wholesale buyers, FCWA and the city of McCaysville, would see another similar increase in 2018.
“The city of Blue Ridge has made an increase for our water services. I know a lot of you are here today to see how it is going to effect your rates,” FCWA Chairwoman Anita Weaver addressed the crowd at the April FCWA meeting.
Weaver also acknowledged that the news of this increase has not left the FCWA with time to discuss its potential impact: “The water authority has really not had an opportunity to go over all of this at the present time, to look at our budget, to see if there will be an increase.”
Following the June 2017 rate increase from the city, the FCWA passed on 75 percent of the increase to its customers.
FCWA board member Kay Kendall was present at the city meeting when the wholesale rate increase was implemented and explains why there was a need to raise prices: “I was at the meeting and if I understand it right, it was due to the cost for them (city).”
FCWA is currently in a three-year contract with the City of Blue Ridge, and there is little in the contract to prevent any kind of increase the city might enforce.
“There’s no promise that in terms of looking at increases,” Weaver said explaining the current contract, “just a very vague statement that says, ‘we (city) can do whatever we want, every time, every year.'”
Questions arose from current FCWA customers asking the board what can be done to renegotiate the terms of the contract, and what the board plans to do moving forward.
The board was unable to discuss the reworking of the contract, and Kendall added, “We fully recognize that, right now, the city holds the cards.”
Assuring customers that the board is not taking the matter lightly, Weaver said, “I have talked with a couple of the council members and I plan on continuing to talk to them to see what we can resolve in this matter.”
FCWA Vice Chairman Larry Chapman added to Weaver’s thoughts, “A lot of the questions you folks have are the same questions we have and we’ve got to find the answers to those.”
The FCWA hopes to have more answers in their next monthly meeting scheduled to be held Wednesday, May 16, at the Fannin County Courthouse.
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