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updated: 2/12/2014 5:20 PM

Meetings set on Batavia electricty rate increase

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Batavia officials will study whether to raise the city's sales tax in order to reduce how much it is likely to raise customers' electricity bills.

The city council, meeting Tuesday as a committee of the whole, gave administrator Bill McGrath permission to schedule a special meeting on the electricity matter, and to solicit input and answer questions from the public on the city's website.

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McGrath unveiled a proposal to increase the sales tax rate one-half cent to 8 percent on general merchandise and 2.25 percent on food and drugs.

The estimated $1.5 million that could be raised by doing so could be used to pay for some of the electricity Batavia buys and then resells to its utility customers. The city may raise electricity rates as much as 16 percent later this year to cover increased costs; using some sales tax money could mean rates could be bumped up just 10 percent.

McGrath suggested a preliminary electricity rate discussion be conducted at the council's regular committee meeting at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 18, and that a special meeting be called for 7:30 p.m. Feb. 24 to present information about the electrical utility and why a rate increase is being sought.

Customers will also be able to submit questions via a link to be set up at cityofbatavia.net.

If the council wants to increase the sales tax in time for it to go into effect July 1, it would have to decide in March and notify the state by April 1.

Utility rate changes usually go into effect May 1.

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