Athens City Council met in committee Monday to discuss proposed increases in water and sewage rates for Athens residents in 2021.

Councilwoman Sarah Grace, D-At Large, said sewage rates would increase by 4%, and water rates would increase by 3%. The stormwater rate, which has not been increased in ten years, would increase from $2 to $4 for residential customers, and from $4 to $6 for commercial and industrial customers.

Costs for delinquent letters for those who have not paid their water bill would increase from $15 to $25. Councilwoman Beth Clodfelter, D-At Large, expressed concern about this increase, as it would create more costs for those who are already struggling to pay their bills.

“If somebody is struggling financially enough that it’s hard to pay the water bill, then increasing a fee that I think might be better not to have at all would make it even harder for them to catch up,” Clodfelter said.

Council also discussed transferring funds from the city’s general fund into the cemetery fund in order to offset costs. 

Councilman Sam Crowl, D-3rd Ward, said the revenue from the cemetery fund is not matching the cost of maintaining the cemeteries in Athens. A proposed $60,000 would be transferred from the general fund to the cemetery fund. Athens would also begin selling plots in their cemeteries in order to generate revenue.

Boone Troyer, interim director of Athens County Convention and Visitors Bureau, spoke to Council about a contract renewal between the city of Athens and Athens County Convention and Visitors Bureau. 

Troyer said the Athens County Convention and Visitors Bureau is focusing on doing regional tourism in a safe way in 2021, which includes promoting outdoor tourism and recreation. 

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