Columbia City Council Discusses Possible Water Rate Increase

Water Fees Could Rise to Help Flood Repairs

Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Water rates could increase in the city of Columbia to help with flood relief efforts. That's if the city can't find another source of income.

That's just one of the issues addressed during the Columbia City Council meeting on Tuesday night.

Columbia City Council was pretty busy tonight discussing topics from flood recovery, to storm water issues and parking in the city.

"There's a lot of work that needs to be done,” says Mellissa Gentry, assistant city manager for the City of Columbia.

The city is still on the road to recovery nearly one year after the October flood. During Tuesday night's meeting, council members heard suggestions from city staff on a storm water utility bond that could help with roads in flood risk areas.

"When a little bit of rain or the rain storm coming, I get phone calls, I get emails,” says Councilman Moe Baddourah. “I've seen you guys in Five Points filming Walgreens and it's an issue."

Baddourah says there could be a $2.00 increase in water utility bills in the city. That could bring in $2 million extra a year for the more than$ 60 million needed to improve flood prone areas.

Baddourah says they just need to decide on the next step.

"Let's discuss it, let's bring some relief to the public,” says Baddourah.

Business owners in Five Points are also hoping to see some relief when it comes to parking.

"There's really been a request from one of the hospitality areas to expand parking enforcement hours,” says Gentry.

Gentry says businesses are seeing more and more people parking and leaving cars for longer periods of time, leaving no room for customers to shop.

"We're recommending to expanding the hours to at least later in the evenings,” says Gentry. “Probably nine or ten o'clock and that's to be decided and at least on Saturday and possibly on Sunday, but we'll have that conversation and make that decision."

Council also heard suggestions for increased parking rates, but concerned business owners have expressed that increase could keep customers away.

"It's something that we need to discuss a little bit further and get a consensus from all council before we make that decision,” says Baddourah.

Council is expected to have a first reading on the parking enforcement side of that ordinance in their next meeting on September 20th.


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