Rome’s residential water and sewer customers will start seeing an average hike in their monthly bill of about $1.50 starting in January with the unanimous passage by the Rome City Commission Monday of a 2.5% across-the-board rate hike.

Stressing the increase is necessary to cover system upgrades deemed critical to keep local drinking water safe from toxins believed to come from carpet manufacturers upstream, the commissioners pointed out that they felt it was best to make “small, incremental” rate increases each year, rather than larger hikes down the road.

Assistant Water & Sewer Director John Boyd reminded the commission before its vote on the rate resolution that the city’s water system has been considered at the highest level of quality possible in the state with its “platinum” status for the third year in a row.

Commissioners also unanimously approved a resolution for a federal grant application for fiscal year 2021 to cover a little over $2 million in Rome Transit Department expenses, including $1.6 million for two 30-foot electric hybrid buses.

Because the federal grant would cover 80% of those expenses, Rome’s portion would amount to $201,000, while the state would cover the other 10%.

In other business approved by commissioners, Summerville Park residents can breathe a sigh of relief with the green light given to the Northwest Georgia Housing Authority for the rezoning of parcels once slated for a hotel they feared would attract prostitution and drugs to their neighborhood off Martha Berry Highway.

The Housing Authority plans to construct five single-family duplexes for senior citizens on those parcels adjacent to Summerville Park. There will be 10 units total — six one-bedroom units and four two-bedroom units, according to Housing Authority Director of Construction Howard Gibson.

“We’re excited about the project and welcome your support,” Gibson told commissioners.

Another rezoning request that was not as cut and dry barely passed, with two dissenting votes coming from commissioners Evie McNiece and Bill Irmscher. It involved two oddly-shaped lots slated for additional parking for retail developments off Riverside Parkway across from Chieftains Museum.

Although recommended by Floyd County Planning staff on the condition the two smaller parcels were combined with two larger C-C parcels, the rezoning request by developer Larry Martin from Office Institutional to Community Commercial was sent on to the Rome City Commission with only a 3-3 vote by the Floyd County Planning Commission earlier this month.

Commissioners expressed concerns about what the larger commercial parcels would actually be used for in an area so close to Chieftains, the Social Security Office and the Labor Department.

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