Dyana Stewart from the Florida Rural Water Association presented the Sopchoppy city commission with a rate study, laying out the options for future rate increases to users inside and outside the city.

The current base rate is $16 for consumers within the city, and $22 for those outside, a 37.5% difference. The city commission has been looking into changing this rate both to pay for needed improvements to the water system and in response to a Senate bill that would ban gaps between costs for inside and outside consumers, such as the 37.5% gap that exists now.
The first scenario had been presented at an earlier meeting, and would mean rates of $21.12 for users inside the city and $26.40 for those outside, an overall increase in the rates, but a decrease in the percentage gap between them to about 25%.
The second scenario eliminates that gap completely, equalizing costs inside and outside of Sopchoppy. It suggests updating the rate to $25.65 for everyone, which would mean that the rate wouldn’t need to be changed again later should the Senate bill pass. Scenario 3 maintains the same gap, increasing the cost inside to $19.20 and the cost outside to $26.40, leaving the existing gap of 37.5% in place.
The city commissioners deliberated over the issue, agreeing that the gap should be decreased, but unsure of whether to get rid of the gap altogether and use Scenario 2 or go with Scenario 1 first and then go to Scenario 2 later, so that the increases are taken in steps, therefore making it an easier transition for Sopchoppy residents who would see the biggest increase.
Sopchoppy City Attorney Dan Cox said that it might be best to go straight to Scenario 2, and “rip the Band-Aid off.”
City commissioners decided to advertise equalizing costs for all customers, giving the public a chance to respond to it, before moving ahead with actually increasing the rates.
In other news:

  • Wade Brown of Edwin Brown & Associates was at the meeting to request a capacity letter for a 49-unit development in Crawfordville, which would need to be attached to Sopchoppy’s water system. The letter needed information about whether getting the development attached to the water would be possible, and if so when that could occur, so that it could be delivered to the Wakulla County Planning Commission for approval. City Attorney Dan Cox said that, yes, the development could be put on Sopchoppy’s water, but that it would be possible in November 2025 at the earliest, once Phase 1 of developments were completed. The letter will be written to include that condition before it can be approved.
  • The first reading of the capacity fee ordnance was made, and the ordnance would apply a $7,900 one-time fee to all new connections to the water system.
  • Superintendent Pearce spoke with Vice Mayor Roger McKenzie about transferring the old Sopchoppy School to the city, rather than selling it to the highest bidder. Both the Sopchoppy Opry and the Wakulla Community Theater utilize the old gym, and could potentially generate enough revenue to maintain it, but the city commissioners wanted to hold a workshop on it before outright agreeing, to make sure their eventual decision is as educated as possible.