Fruitland Park blesses 25 percent water rate hike that falls below study’s recommendation

Fruitland Park commissioners showed their support during the first reading of an ordinance on Thursday night that will increase water and wastewater rates by 25 percent – considerably less than a utility study recently recommended.

The second reading of the ordinance is scheduled for the commission’s July 25 meeting, when final approval is expected based on their statements Thursday night and their unanimous support for the ordinance at a June 24 workshop.

Commissioners held the workshop after receiving a utility rate study completed by GovRates Inc. that recommended an increase of 71.5 percent to meet the minimum debt coverage service requirement, or 94 percent to meet revenue requirements.

The debt coverage service requirement is associated with State Revolving Fund loans that were secured to finance Fruitland Park’s wastewater utility system and if that isn’t met, the city could go into technical default and have issues getting future loans, the study says.

At the workshop, commissioners balked at the idea of implementing such drastic increases at once and agreed to go with a 25 percent increase each year over the next three years. But they also promised to look at the issue each year to see if growth and other factors have eliminated the need for the hike.

The increase is designed to eventually eliminate the city’s need to subsidize water and wastewater services through the general fund. That practice has been going on for several years and the city eventually will be required to pay that money back into the general fund.

At the workshop, Mayor Chris Cheshire made it clear early on that he wasn’t in favor of raising rates all at once by either one of those higher rates. He called that idea “ridiculous” and said he believes the problem could solve itself in the next few years.

“If we have to raise sewer rates and water rates, we want to raise them as little as possible to make everything balance,” Cheshire said. “I still believe in the next two to three years, growth is going to work this problem out. We’re going to have enough people hook up to sewer that this is no longer a problem.”

After some considerable debate at the workshop, commissioners unofficially decided to implement a 25 percent annual rate increase over the next three years, with the caveat that they’ll take a hard look at the situation each year to see if growth and other factors have eliminated the need for the hike. And they agreed that the same rate of increase would be passed along to Central Sumter Utility Company, which purchases water from Fruitland Park for 82 cents per 1,000 gallons and in turn provides it to The Villages portion of the city at a much higher rate.

The GovRates Inc. study showed that 75 percent of utility customers have water-only service provided by the city. It said the average resident in that scenario uses 6,000 gallons a month and suggested that rates should go from $20.49 to $35.10 – an increase of $14.61. But under the plan approved by the Commission, those same customers would see their base water rate stay the same and their increase would be just $4.53 cents – .4 cents per gallon – bringing their total monthly bill to $25.02.

The study also pointed out that 25 percent of the city’s residents are water/wastewater customers who use an average of about 4,000 gallons a month. It suggested their rates should go from $41.13 to $74.82 – an increase of $33.69. But the actual increase will be just $10.61 – 1.3 cents per gallon – bringing that monthly total to $51.74.

More Headlines

Softball players caravan to fallen teammate’s home in The Villages

More than 100 friends and fellow softball players caravanned Saturday morning to the home of their fallen teammate in The Villages. Villages-News.com's David Towns was there.

P.F. Chang’s Villages application still on file despite pandemic peril

P.F. Chang’s China Bistro’s application for a restaurant in The Villages remains on file with the state, despite the chain’s struggle in the wake of the Coronavirus crisis.

Photos

Gorgeous Morning At Lake Sumter Landing

Check out this gorgeous morning at Lake Sumter Landing. Thanks to Joan Tillinger for sharing! Share your local photos with us at https://villages-news.com/contact-us!

Alligator Poking Head Out Of Water At Fenney Nature Trail

Remember, just because you can't see him doesn't mean he can't see you! Check out this alligator spotted at Fenney Nature Trail. Thanks to...

Great Blue Heron Swallowing A Very Large Catfish

Check out this great blue heron swallowing a very large catfish near Lopez Ashley Meadows #2. Thanks to Garry Kolb for sharing! Share your local...

Letters to the Editor

Not wearing a face mask during pandemic is disrespectful

In a Letter to the Editor, a Village of Bridgeport at Lake Sumter resident says that not wearing a mask is disrespectful to all medical personnel and all people with underlying conditions.

Business

Lake County to hold webinar on tips for government bidding  

The Lake County Office of Procurement Services invites interested businesses to an upcoming webinar to learn about tips for bidding on government contracts. We've got a link that makes signup easy.

Crime

Summerfield woman behind bars after moving gal pal’s belongings to shed

A 60-year-old Summerfield woman was jailed Wednesday after packing up her gal pal roommate’s belongings and telling her to stay away.

Opinions

It makes perfect sense to honor ‘request’ of wearing masks at recreation centers

A request to wear masks at recreation centers is no different than someone asking you to take off your shoes or refrain from smoking in their house.

Top Stories

Another Villager tests positive for COVID-19 as surrounding communities add cases

Another Villager has been diagnosed with the Coronavirus as Lady Lake and Summerfield also added cases and a Marion County man succumbed to the virus.

Softball players caravan to fallen teammate’s home in The Villages

More than 100 friends and fellow softball players caravanned Saturday morning to the home of their fallen teammate in The Villages. Villages-News.com's David Towns was there.

P.F. Chang’s Villages application still on file despite pandemic peril

P.F. Chang’s China Bistro’s application for a restaurant in The Villages remains on file with the state, despite the chain’s struggle in the wake of the Coronavirus crisis.

Letters to the Editor

Not wearing a face mask during pandemic is disrespectful

In a Letter to the Editor, a Village of Bridgeport at Lake Sumter resident says that not wearing a mask is disrespectful to all medical personnel and all people with underlying conditions.

I choose not to wear a mask

A Village of Piedmont woman explains why she chooses not to wear a face mask. Read her Letter to the Editor.

Disappointed in our hometown newspaper

A Village of Liberty Park resident, in a Letter to the Editor, expresses her disappointment in coverage in The Villages Daily Sun.

Crime

Summerfield woman behind bars after moving gal pal’s belongings to shed

A 60-year-old Summerfield woman was jailed Wednesday after packing up her gal pal roommate’s belongings and telling her to stay away.

Faulty tag light leads to Lady Lake man being arrested on drug charges

A Lady Lake man who was stopped in Leesburg Tuesday night for a malfunctioning license tag light soon found himself behind bars on drug charges.

Man armed with gun jailed after climbing into woman’s car in The Villages

A man armed with a gun cloaked in a sock was arrested after climbing into a woman’s car at a grocery store in The Villages.