Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Utility Takeover to Raise Water Rates

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Utility Takeover to Raise Water Rates

Article excerpt

Byline: Amelia A. Hart, Nassau Neighbors staff writer

The 3,300 Florida Water Service customers on the south end of Amelia Island will see two changes on their bills come October: The bill will be from Nassau-Amelia Utility, and water and sewer rates will be 5 percent higher.

During a rate hearing Tuesday, Nassau County nailed down what it will charge customers when it takes control of the water and sewer utility formerly owned by Florida Water.

The county seized the utility in March to prevent its acquisition by either a government authority run by two Panhandle cities or the city of Fernandina Beach.

The 17 people who attended the rate hearing at Amelia Island Plantation generally were supportive of the county's take-over of the system, but some raised questions about how the utility will be regulated and whether American Beach will receive service.

Most current residential customers with water and sewer use about 25,000 gallons a month, and they will pay around $3 a month more, according to Clerk of the Courts Chip Oxley.

The base rate for water will increase from $5.12 a month to $5.38. The base rate for wastewater will go from $15.85 to $16.64.

Water use was .00108 of a cent per gallon, or $1.08 for each 1,000 gallons used. Customers now will pay .00113 of a cent per gallon, or $1.13 per 1,000 gallons.

Wastewater use was .00321 of a cent per gallon, or $3.21 for each 1,000 gallons used, with a 6,000-gallon, or $19.26 maximum charge. Those rates will increase to .00337 of a cent per gallon, or $3.37 for 1,000 gallons, also with a 6,000-gallon maximum, or $20.22 charge.

When the Nassau County Commission condemned the system, commissioners said they didn't expect the rates to increase, but that was dependent on the bond market, which since has slumped, Oxley said. The county is paying for the utility by issuing a revenue bond.

Because the utility now is owned by a governmental entity instead of a private company, it no longer is subject to regulation by the state's Public Service Commission. …

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