Groveland Community Services District sewer customers will pay $24.50 more each month for services, beginning in April.

"Here's what we need to do just to stop the bleeding," Director Craig Maxwell said in yesterday's board meeting, before presenting his research and the rate hikes he said are necessary to get GCSD back in black.

The charge would jump GCSD rates from $32 per month for residential customers to $56.50. Businesses would pay $56.50 plus another, use-based fee.

The board will hold a special meeting at 2 p.m. Monday, Feb. 24, to discuss details of the rate increase, and directors expect to adopt the final resolution March 10. New rates should take effect April 10.

In an August 2002 memo, former GCSD General Manager and Engineer Jeff Winner reminded the board that GCSD has not raised sewer rates since 1980.

Now the old rates are not enough to cover district operating expenses, Maxwell said.

Neither the 12 to 15 connection fees collected each year, nor GCSD's capital reserves, do much to fill the gap, he said.

Connection fees usually run $2,162 per new house in Pine Mountain Lake and $2,362 in Groveland.

The fee approved yesterday will stand until the district hears back from a consulting firm hired to analyze the sewer situation.

The findings from that study will show if the board should raise rates even more, lower them or hold them steady at $56.50.

The board approved the increase by a 3-1 vote, with directors Maxwell, Allie Baker-Henderson and Joe Moore voting for and Director Don Myers voting against.

Director Jennifer Norris was not at the meeting.

"You want to drop a $24.50 rate increase on people who can't afford it," Myers said. "I'm not going to support $24.50, and that's all I have to say about it."

Contact Genevieve Bookwalter at gbookwalter@