Sandy Springs residents who get their water from the city of Atlanta will soon have fewer coins in their pockets (or purses) after the Atlanta City Council voted 13-0 on June 19 to increase its water/sewer rates by 27.5 percent in the fiscal year that begins July 1.

But Sandy Springs residents will not only pay the 27.5 percent increase over last year’s water rates; they also will pay their proportion of the 20 percent surcharge Atlanta charges communities, such as Sandy Springs, to which it supplies water.

The legislation passed by the Atlanta City Council actually increases the water/sewer rates for a total of 70 percent over the next four years.

However, the higher rates would be suspended for years two, three and four if a requested audit of the city’s Water and Sewer Fund is not completed and delivered to the council by March 31, 2009.

Council members also have requested that the Watershed Management Department look for additional cost-saving measures internally.

Revenues collected by the water department are used for the sole purpose of supporting the effective operation, management and improvement of the city’s water and sewer systems and to meet the financial obligations of the city, including the repayment of bonds issued as part of the $3.9 billion water and sewer system rehab.

Currently the city is replacing underground pipes that are nearly 100 years old and fulfilling court-ordered mandates under a federal consent decree.

— John Schaffner