Sewer rates rise in new Columbus budget

Published 11:15 am Tuesday, June 21, 2011

New rates to help fund sewer upgrades

The Town of Columbus has approved its budget for fiscal year 2011-2012 with no tax increases but a 10 percent increase in sewer rates.

Columbus Town Council met Thursday, June 16 and approved the new budget following a public hearing. No residents spoke about the budget proposal.

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The town’s tax rate will remain at 39 cents per $100 of valuation, which includes four cents for the town’s fire tax.

Town council is currently working on studies and the design of $2.75 million of wastewater treatment plant upgrades. The 10-percent increase in sewer rates will be placed in a separate line item to be saved to pay to finance the upgrades.

The sewer rate increase will be implemented as follows:

• A base rate increase of $1.19 per month for residential customers inside town limits and $4.26 per month for those outside the town.

• A base rate increase of $3.56  per month for commercial customers inside town limits and $6.88 for those outside the town.

Water rates will not be changed next year.

The town has been approved to borrow money from the state at zero interest for the renovation of the wastewater treatment plant. Construction will likely not begin until 2013, with payments not being due until 2014, according to engineers.

Columbus’ budget includes $249,250 to pay for the wastewater treatment plan design, which will be reimbursed from the loan at a later date.

The town’s total budget was approved at $2,187,910 with $1,324,735 in the general fund and $863,175 in the enterprise fund.

The town expects to receive $440,000 in real property tax revenue next year, with an expected $17,440 from vehicle tax revenue.

The revenue is based on real property tax values in Columbus of $116,784,225 and $5,287,775 in assessed vehicle values.

After budgeting no funding this fiscal year for the Fabulous Fourth of July Celebration, council decided to place $6,500 in next year’s budget because next year is the town’s 50th celebration. This year Polk County paid the remaining balance for fireworks that end the festival. Of the $6,500 budgeted for next year’s festival, $1,500 will come out of the town’s occupancy tax revenues.

The budget projects the town will receive $20,000 total next year in occupancy tax revenue.

Columbus’ new budget year begins July 1.