Fulton County residents serviced on the county’s water/sewer system will need to dig a little deeper to pay those particular bills starting next month.

“Certainly we do not like to raise rates at any point in time on anything, but it was a situation where it was needed to improve an infrastructure project that was necessary to make sure Fulton County has enough wastewater treatment capacity,” District 2 Fulton Commissioner Bob Ellis said.

At the county board of commissioners’ Dec. 4 meeting at Assembly Hall in downtown Atlanta, this is how Ellis explained the group’s 6-0 approval of a resolution to increase county residents’ water/sewer rates by 5% for each of the next three years. District 4 Commissioner Natalie Hall was absent.

According to the resolution document, the rate increase would allow the county to improve modifications to the water connection fees for north Fulton and help pay for upgrades to the county’s Big Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in Roswell.

However, Commission Chair Robb Pitts introduced a motion to include in the resolution an amendment to require the county staff to conduct a study of the water/sewer system in south Fulton. His motion passed as part of the resolution.

Fulton Vice Chair and District 3 representative Lee Morris said the commission was planning to do such a study anyway. The commission delayed voting on the rate hike at its Nov. 6 and 20 meetings due to concerns from some south Fulton mayors and county officials over water/sewer system parity in the county’s northern and southern areas. The increase had to be approved by Jan. 1.

“This resolution has been in the works for some time, so it was not a surprise, and we are doing huge improvements to the capacity of the water treatment center in north Fulton that is costing hundreds of millions of dollars, which has to be paid for by the water/sewer users,” Morris said.

Ellis said the commission has always tried to be “as responsible as we can to our citizens.”

“We want to make sure we don’t make any rate increases until we needed them, and they were validated in terms of what was required with the different elements needed to increase capacity,” he said.

Ellis described the rate increase as a “necessary element we did as we look forward to getting these key projects underway.”

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