Columbia Water, Sewer Increase To Fix Crumbling Pipes

11:25 PM, Mar 26, 2013   |    comments
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Columbia, SC (WLTX) - If you live in the city of Columbia or Richland County, you may soon see an increase in your water and sewage bill,  thanks to a decision made by the Columbia City Council.

"When you increase the water bill up to $20 dollars a month that is going to affect a lot of people," said Councilman Moe Baddourah.

Often time you can't go one week without hearing about a water main break in the city of Columbia.
Leaders say it's because of pipes that are more than 50-75 years old.

"Over 173 year some things break, we have some pipes in the ground that are literally almost more than 100 years old," said Mayor Steve Benjamin.

Benjamin says one way to renovate the crumbling water system is to increase rates for customers.
According to the city, the average customer spends $45.20, with the increase they will spend $47.84, that's a six percent increase.

But Benjamin says even with the increase customers still pay lower than our neighboring cities.

"Lexington, Greenville, Charlotte, all of them," said Benjamin.

Baddourah voted against the measure. Saying that the city should not raise rates, instead he thinks the city should no longer transfer money from the water system to the general fund for the city.
Last year the city took 4.5 Million dollars.

"I believe a lot of that money should go to rebuilding the system instead of making a rate increase."

Benjamin also introduced a resolution for the city to only receive up to 5% of revenue generated from the water system. The resolution passed by a vote of 6 to 1. Councilman Moe Baddourah was the lone vote against the resolution.

"Without any transfers you are talking about having a tax increase on citizens and a tax increase isn't happening on my watch," said Benjamin.

Benjamin says they are committed to keeping Columbia's water and sewage rates low but things have to be done in order to ensure that the water system can last another 100 years.




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