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      Additional charge added to Water, Gas & Light bills

      After stricter standards were placed on the city of Albany to come up with better ways to manage their storm drainage, officials had to figure out a plan on how to fund those projects.

      "We started looking at various options and we got with a consultant and the fairest and most equitable way to come up with to actually fund the new requirements was to come up with a Storm Water Utility," said City Engineering Director, Bruce Maples.

      On Tuesday evening, Albany City Commissioners approved to add a $2.50 charge to each homeowner's Water, Gas & Light Bill, but commercial landowners will see larger numbers based on how many runoff surfaces " like their roof and parking lot -- their property has.

      City officials say without having a way to fund the improvements, they could face a daily fine until they're in compliance, which may in turn cause taxes to be raised.

      "We would have to pay that and we certainly don't have monies in our general fund to take care of it. This way seems, to me, to be the better of the evils that are out there for us because it means that we can do this a little at a time," said Mayor Dorothy Hubbard.Also during the meeting, commissioners considered allocating an additional $199,000 of SPLOST VI funds towards phase three of the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport's new terminal project.

      "There is an exercise where they go through a spreadsheet to determine which items are Airport Improvement Program eligible and which ones aren't. The items that are not have to be funded by SPLOST, but the items that are AIP eligible are funded through FAA and GDOT on this project," said Airport Director Yvette Aehle.

      Though expected to cause some discussion, the motion was passed without concerns from any of the board. Airport officials say they still have much work to do before the actual project can start, but they're glad to know the money is there when they begin.

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