Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Southport sewer expansion to be paid with more customers, higher rates

SOUTHPORT — The Southport Board of Aldermen will need to raise its water and sewer rates beginning next year, as well as expand its customer base, to fund its Mulberry Branch Sewer Plant Expansion project, according to hired consultants.

First Tryon Advisors presented their funding plan for the $55 million project to the board on Wednesday. Its representatives suggested a 10% annual increase from 2024 to 2026, 3% annual increases through 2028, and 1% increases for 2029 and thereafter for residents within city limits.

The advisors also suggested Southport increase its customer base by 1.5% every year until 2028, then by 1% after.

The project is set to be paid with a state revolving fund loan of $30 million with a 1.3% interest rate, to be paid out over 20 years. The other $25 million will be funded through revenue bonds over 25 years, with an interest rate of 5%.

According to First Tryon, the city “would not be able to afford the funding of the expansion project with an increase in water and sewer sales.”

Southport brings in revenues up to $6.9 million per year under its current system; First Tryon said that amount needs to be $9 million in 2027 to meet target goals. The company’s estimations account for an estimated 2.5% increase to operating expenses each year. It also projected a need for $600,000 in system repairs each year.

Fees and service charges will remain flat.

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