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Brooksville to consider increase in sewer rates

Despite earlier indications, the City Council will discuss a rate increase in budget sessions this week.

The Brooksville City Council will not vote on its budget until next month, but council members will do much of the real work _ deciding which projects receive money and how much residents will pay for city services _ in three workshops this week.

The workshops are scheduled for 6 p.m. today, Thursday and Friday at Brooksville City Hall, 201 Howell Ave.

The biggest issue might be one that some council members thought had already been decided _ sewer rates. In a preliminary budget meeting last month, council members tentatively decided not to change the current monthly residential fee of $19.33. But, in a memo written last week, finance director Lee Huffstutler suggested raising the fee to $20.83.

The increase would raise an additional $65,000 in annual revenue, the memo said. The increase has been requested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which gave the city a grant and a low-interest loan to pay for the sewage treatment plant the city is building on Cobb Road, City Manager Dick Anderson said.

Huffstutler recommended the sewer rate increase be offset by a 15 percent decrease in garbage collection rates. Because commercial customers are now paying more than their share for garbage collections, they might receive bigger cuts, Anderson said, but homeowners should see at least a dollar taken off their monthly bills.

If the council approves the sewer rate increase, it will be the fourth in four years. The rate climbed from $16.33 last year. Also in anticipation of paying for the sewage treatment plant, the city had raised rates 10 percent in 1996 and 6 percent in 1997.