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City gets utilities report

By Michael Butler

The expense of operating the utility department in Tallassee has been a bit of a black hole. That is something mayor Johnny Hammock has been trying to change.

"When I first came into office in 2016, we were losing on gas, water and sewer," said Hammock, who also serves as head of utilities.

The city initiated a contract with Jackson Thornton Utilities to study the numbers with its utility system.

"Every dollar we spend, we're getting back 89 cents. We're losing 11 percent," Hammock noted. "You never want to make money off your citizens. We're non-profit basically, but we want to close that gap. We've closed it a lot."

In 2019, the city's utility services brought in $3,637,423. The city was in the red for $445,588.

"When you're losing in utilities, you're subsidizing with your sales tax dollars. What pays the price is the police department, fire department, rec department and senior center."

The gas system lost $19,818. Water was under the break-even point by $40,948. The biggest deficit for the city was with sewer services at $310,234 under recovery.

"We made some rate changes," Hammock added, "not on the citizens of Tallassee."

A contract was renogotiated with wholesaler Wall Street Water Authority.

"I had a meeting with their board. We're doing a step process. We're going up 30 cents each year per 1,000 gallons. We're also increasing to Eclectic and Friendship. We're not in the business of selling water to someone else at a loss. It's just business."

Hammock expects better recovery going forward.

"I think in two years when we do this study again it will look a lot better."