Hogansville city council denies rate increases

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, June 20, 2018

HOGANSVILLE – The June 18 Hogansville city council meeting was highlighted by a motion to not adopt proposed increases in MEAG utility rates for the proposed 2018-19 budget, as well as a decision to clarify the intended use of funds to be used to renovate the former PNC Bank building.

In May, Electric Cities of Georgia, an Atlanta-based nonprofit specializing in strategic and technical services to help ensure communities in Georgia maximize the performance of their utilities, presented proposed utility rate increases to the Hogansville council for upcoming years.
     Those utility rate increases have been incorporated into the proposed 2018-19 city budget, per city manager David Milliron, and include increases in rates for electric, water, wastewater and natural gas services.

However, city council members did not agree with the proposed rate increases.

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“I’m opposed across the board to raising the utilities,” city councilman Reginald Jackson said simply.

“My sentiments are the same as councilman Jackson’s,” followed city councilwoman Theresa Strickland.

“I think we need to look at some other changes. I’m not in favor of raising those rates.”

With that quick discussion, the council voted 4-1 to not adopt the proposed rate increases. Councilman Fred Higgins was the lone dissenting vote.

A line item was added for the next work session to discuss the rate increases on an individual basis.

The decision brings with it the need for the council to find additional revenue streams for the upcoming fiscal year, as the already-tight proposed 2018-19 budget assumed a 10 percent increase in electric rates across the board, as well as five percent increases in water, wastewater and natural gas.

The council also held a discussion related to funds set aside for renovation of the former PNC Bank building, which the city of Hogansville took ownership of on May 14. The city plans to use skilled labor from the Georgia Department of Corrections to carry out the construction and remodeling of the space, prior to this taking place the building needs roof repairs in addition to stamped architectural plans for conversion into a city hall.

“We certainly have to address the roof of a building we did acquire,” Milliron said. “We knew it had roof issues, that is the first thing I would like to address.”

Funds in the amount of $177,000 have been committed from a benefactor to cover the cost of interior renovations for use as city hall, though the latitude the city has to allocate the funds was somewhat unclear.

“This has always been stated as renovations for use as city hall,” Milliron said. “It’s all open to interpretation, and talking to the benefactor.”

The decision was made to seek clarification on the intended use of the funds before allocating  to a specific project.

In other news from the city council meeting:

– Pamela Smith, communications officer with the Hogansville Police Department, was honored for 10 years of service to the city.

– Carter Watkins Associates Architects, Inc. presented a Master Plan to the city council for renovations to the Royal Theatre. The firm broke the necessary work into eight phases, with a total estimated price tag of $1,812,000. Next steps related to this work are for the city council to review the Master Plan prior to July 12, when plans will need to be submitted to the Fox Theatre Institute, which is footing a portion of the cost of planning and construction.

– The city council adopted a new right of way ordinance for the city to provide issuance and regulations of rights-of-way permits to outside contractors.

– The city council held a first discussion on a proposed tap fee ordinance, which would allow for installation within two years of purchase to go unaffected by fee modifications.

– A bond resolution was adopted in order for the city to move forward to incur additional debt related to the city’s wastewater treatment plant.