East Point backs off changing water rates

Mayor Earnestine Pittman has championed the rollback from a base rate of almost $48 a month to $39.55 -- which is still more than double the rate a year ago -- and two members won election to the council campaigning against the rates. The rates rose last year after a majority on the council contended the general fund was subsidizing the utilities.

Plans to undo the rate hike this year hang in limbo as questions have repeatedly risen about whether the rollback would create a deficit in the general fund. On Monday, Councilman Myron Cook said he was concerned a rollback would mean there wouldn't be $1.5 million for repairs.

The council voted to delay a vote on the rollback until March 19.

Pittman has proposed raising property taxes to make up losses caused by a rollback. She said few would be hit hard by an increase from 13.75 mills to 15 mills because the average property appraisal had fallen from about $86,000 to about $38,000 in three years.

Doubters said she didn't produce any numbers on whether a tax increase would close the multimillion-dollar deficit that a rollback would create.

Under previous projections, the increase to 15 mills would raise about $968,000 more for the city, but Pittman said Friday that projections are now unclear.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.