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Mayor: Break on charge offered as incentive

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Greenwood is offering a one-time discount on a sewer fee to expanding businesses, weeks after approving monthly sewer rate increases for residents and businesses across the city.

The goal is to encourage businesses to expand in the city by cutting one of the costs.

The reason the city decreased one fee while recently increasing monthly sewer rates is because the fees aren’t comparable, and the discount is an incentive not many businesses will qualify for, director of community development services Mark Richards said.

The city is raising overall sewer fees with two 9 percent increases, totaling about $5 more per month for an average residential customer.

That fee, which residents and businesses both pay monthly, pays for regular repairs and maintenance of the sewer system, including patching and replacing pipes.

The discount for businesses is up to 20 percent off a sewer availability fee that companies pay when they open a new building or add on to an existing facility or complex. New businesses won’t get the discount. The city charges thousands of dollars to make sewer service available to a property or to a property owner expanding a building and increasing sewer use.

The city is trying to encourage existing companies to grow, Mayor Mark Myers said. The fee has hampered some businesses from expanding, he said. The city plans to offer the discount permanently, but a business will pay a sewer availability fee only once per project and get the discount only once per expansion, he said.

The sewer availability fee pays for new sewer system expansions, controller Adam Stone said. For example, the fees could be used to pay for extending sewer pipes into the areas of Greenwood the city recently annexed.

The Greenwood City Council approved the discount and an additional sewer availability fee discount for restaurants with outdoor seating. The rate cut for restaurants makes the fee 75 percent less for outdoor seating areas because they are only used during warm months.

The amount of each sewer hookup fee varies, based on the number of people who will use the building and how much sewage the business is expected to generate, according to the city’s rules. For example, Endress+Hauser paid a $69,010 sewer availability fee for its new customer center.

“By doing so, I hope it really tells our community that even if we are making difficult decisions in other areas, we are looking out for their best interests,” city council member Thom Hord said.

A company that won’t get the discount is GoodSports, which plans to build a hotel and sports complex off County Line Road. GoodSports will pay more than $82,900 to hook on to the city’s sewer system, just for the 124 hotel rooms. But if rapidly expand-

ing manufacturer Endress+Hauser were to build a other facility, that company would get the discount.

“I would say businesses deserve a break. It’s businesses that create jobs,” city council member Ron Bates said.

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