By Lasca Randels
LEESBURG — A decision was made at the Leesburg Town Council meeting Monday, Dec. 12, to raise the town’s sewer rate for the first time in more than a decade.
A study performed in the spring by Baker Tilley led to the recommendation Leesburg raise its monthly sewer rate by $6.50 per month, from the current rate of $73 to $79.50.
Nicole Grzybowski, senior consultant at Baker Tilley, outlined three options for the increase. The increase could be done all at once, as a two-year, phased-in increase at 4.5% each year or as a three-year, phased-in increase with a 3% increase each year.
No decision was made regarding the potential sewer rate increase, despite the recommendation. However, due to continued costs associated with maintenance of the system, in part because of prohibited items being flushed, town officials agree the rate hike cannot be put off any longer.
“I hate for it to be my last official act,” said Councilman Doug Jones, who last month announced he will be resigning from his position on the Leesburg Town Council effective Jan. 1, 2023, “but this needs to happen.”
“I have multiple properties here in town, so it’s the last thing I want to see,” Jones said. “However, when you look at the town’s stance on it, it just has to happen. We don’t have any choice.”
Council members agreed it would be best to do the rate increase all at once rather than going with three year increments.
“As far as I’m concerned, that’s just prolonging the agony,” Jones said. “Plus, if we do the rate increase in full in the first hit, we may not have to do one again for a while hopefully, so we get the benefit of that so people can adjust their budgets accordingly.”
Jones said he is actually shocked the town has been able to maintain the current sewer rate for almost 14 years — something unheard of in most communities.
“Our system is aging. I think it’s absolutely necessary to make this move at this time,” Council President Christina Archer agreed.
Baker-Tilley will be notified of the town’s decision.
In another matter, it was reported the town’s recycling center, located near Hoplore, will be closing as of Jan. 1, 2023.
Council Vice President Tom Moore said this presents an opportunity to check with a waste company about the cost for property owners to participate in a recycling service.
Clerk-Treasurer Michael Searfoss said he contacted Borden Waste-Away Service Inc. and was told the company is interested in finding out how many residents would be interested in this service.
“Hopefully people would understand the benefit of having curbside pick-up,” Moore said. “You don’t have to put it in your car and you don’t have to drive somewhere else.”
Council members agreed to put information about this on the sewer bill, asking who would be interested in order to get an idea of how many would participate.
Council also approved the 2023 salary ordinance at Monday night’s meeting. Moore said this amounted to a roughly 4% increase across the board, with the exception of elected officials, who received no increase.
At the end of the meeting, Jones was presented with a certificate of appreciation for his 14 years of service on the council.
Town officials would like to remind residents of the following: No parking on any street between 3-5 a.m. (this applies every day of the week); No burning anything, any time; Please, be mindful of what you flush.
In other news:
- Moore and Derek Tenney of Tenney & Sons are working on a preventive maintenance program for the main lift station, though details of the schedule have not been finalized at this time.
- A representative from the aeration system company will be checking the lift station to see what can be done to address the issue with the odor.
- Council approved a 2023 agreement with Kosciusko Economic Development Corporation.
- The next regular meeting will be 6:30 p.m. Jan. 9, 2023.