SPRINGFIELD — The city may increase sewer rates in an effort to recoup costs of its wastewater treatment plant upgrades mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The proposal was discussed during a work session before the city commission meeting at City Hall on Tuesday evening.
According to the proposal, the city would raise costs 4 percent each year through 2014, beginning Aug. 1 of this year. The city would also raise costs on March 1 of 2013 and again on Jan. 1 of 2014.
For a home with two residents who use a small amount of water, sewer rates won’t change much. For families of three or more who use 4-6 ccf (hundred cubit feet) of water per month, the rates would increase approximately $1 by 2014.
The city’s 2012 Water and Sewer Utility Rate Study Summary shows the city needs to generate more revenue to cover two-thirds of the cost of the high-rate clarifier at the wastewater treatment plant, which will cost about $57 million, as well as the Erie Express sewer line, which will cost about $10 million over the next few years. Both of those were federally-mandated by the EPA in the city’s long-time control plan to help ensure cleaner water in Springfield.
The city’s model factors in operating and maintenance, debt service and needs over the next five years. It uses that model to predict expenses and what revenue needs to be generated and keeps a certain amount of money in the fund.
A typical combined water/sewer bill with the 4 percent increase on Aug. 1 would be $54.78 per month for residences which use 10 ccf of water per month. The rates would increase to $57.58 by 2014 under the proposed rates.
The city charges by customer classes —residential, industrial and commercial — and there may be differences in rates based on those classes.
According to Beckdahl, Springfield’s rates are still cheaper than those of other nearby communities, including Cedarville ($97.99 per month), New Carlisle ($75.23) and Urbana ($73.02).
“We like to keep them down for our citizens, and we like to keep them down for our commercial and industrial people, too,” Beckdahl said. “Hopefully, it’s a selling point to attract new businesses.”
The proposal will likely have a first reading at the next city commission meeting in two weeks, and could be brought to a vote before the commission a month from now.
According to the study, there will be no water rate increases for the foreseeable future.
Contact this reporter at (937) 328-0366 or Michael.Cooper@coxinc.com.