Augusta Utilities director looks to clarify rate increase

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Friday, Jan. 3, 2020

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- After Augusta Utilities officials said rates would be going up by 3 percent on the next utility bill, the utility's director is hoping to clarify what it all means.

In a statement, director Tom Wiedmeier talked about the city's water crisis of the late 90's that forced them to create a massive capital improvement campaign and raise over $400 million to update city infrastructure.

"While tremendous progress was made during the 2000's, there is still much work to be done," Wiedmeier said. Since 2010, we have taken advantage of significantly lower interest rates and refinanced debt secured in the 2000's. By doing so, we were able to get new money for capital improvements while keeping our debt payments level. We have been able to invest over $100 million in this manner."

Wiedmeier now says the utility has no more old debt to refinance and his goal is to transition to a "revenue-funded capital improvements program" that will require annual 3 percent rate increases.

Wiedmeier also looks to clear up and confusion about the storm water fee and sewer fees, saying "While they appear on the same bill, the storm water fee goes only to storm water improvements and is administered by the Augusta Engineering Department."