New budget brings electric rate hike for LaGrange

Published 9:30 am Thursday, May 30, 2024

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Immediately after being sworn in on Tuesday, new LaGrange Mayor Jim Arrington and Council member Darby Pippin joined city leaders to review the FY 2025 budget. The new budget brings new challenges, including expected electric rate hikes.

The budgeting process begins in April each year with the city manager working with departments to balance expected revenue and expenses, which is then presented to the council in May for approval and finalization in June.

For 2025, the city expects about $164,474,184 in total revenue with expenses around $163,732,779, a $15 million increase over last year.

While the city is planning to continue not collecting a property tax, utility rates are expected to increase to help pay for fixed costs from Plant Vogtle.

Units 3 and 4 at Plant Vogtle are now commercially operational and are expected to generate about 12 percent of the city’s electrical needs. While the costs for the power will be extremely inexpensive (the price is negative after a 1.8 cent per kilowatt-hour federal tax credit), the fixed costs have not been paid for through electric rates.

Since 2005, the fixed costs of electric generation have increased by $15.3 million with only $10.6 million being paid for through utility rates, leaving a $4.7 million shortfall.

To recover the costs associated with the Vogtle expansion City Manager Patrick Bowie has proposed a small increase in electric rates. With the proposed increase, the average residential electric service bill would increase from $123.60 to $126.27. For general service electric customers the average bill would jump from $233.08 to $256.33.

Even with the rate increases, LaGrange’s rates will remain well below those of Diverse Power and Georgia Power.

The proposed rates are estimated to recover $4.1 million in revenue, but the customers will also see savings of about $3.4 million due to the lower energy costs from Vogtle, which limits the overall impact of the increase.

The city is also planning to increase security lighting rates by approximately $2 per month for smaller lights and $5 per for larger lights. The street light rates have not changed since 2010.

To stem losses in sanitation, the city is also planning an increase in trash service rates.

The following sanitation service rate increases are included in the proposed budget:

68-gallon can from $20 to $22.30

96-gallon can from $23 to $25.65

96-gallon premium from $36 to $40.14

96-gallon commercial from $26 to $28.99

96-gallon commercial premium from $39 to $43.49

96-gallon nonprofit premium from $36 to $40.14

Additional residential cans will be $13.25 and commercial cans will be $22.45.

No increases are expected for gas rates.