New Carlisle residents will see a 30 percent hike in their sewer rates over the next three years, due to increased costs and a future $3 million to $4 million expansion of the city’s wastewater treatment plant.
Sewer rates in New Carlisle will go up about 15 percent in March from an average of $3.89 to $4.47 per 1,000 gallons for those served by the city’s sewer system.
The rates will increase 10 percent in 2016 and 5 percent in 2017.
The changes come after council members recently voted 5-1 to increase sewer rates in the city for the first time since 2006.
Mayor Lowell McGlothin said the increase is needed.
“This is something that should be done every couple years to keep up with the costs of everything,” McGlothin said. ”Everything is going up.”
Service Director Howard Kitko said the increases are needed due in part to Environmental Protection Agency policy changes and rising operational costs.
The New Carlisle Wastewater Treatment Plant was built in the 1980s, and Kitko said officials must upgrade many of the pumps and motors to “new, high efficiency equipment” and set aside money for emergency repairs and future expansion.
“We expect a major upgrade to happen right around 2018,” Kitko said.
The upgrade could cost between $3 million to $4 million, he said.
City officials are expected to apply for a 20- or 30-year, zero-percent interest loan from the Ohio EPA and seek grant money from the Ohio Public Works Commission.
The wastewater treatment plant currently brings in an average of $800,000 in revenue. The increase will garner an additional $80,000.
Sewer rates are based on water usage, and a four-person household uses about 4,500 to 5,000 gallons per month.
The revenue will go toward operation, maintenance and repair, capital improvement and debt service, Kitko said.
However, Kitko said the increased revenue will not be enough to add staff to the plant to meet EPA requirements. The plant only has a staff of four, though the EPA recommends the plant have five workers.
Council member Ethan Reynolds voted against increasing sewer rates, saying the city has recently increased other rates and will ask voters to approve an income tax levy in May.
“I think its very bad form to say please vote to increase your taxes while we raise every fee that we possibly can — whether it be water rates, cemetery rates and now sewer rates,” Reynolds said.
McGlothin said he would like Reynolds to come up with a plan that would allow the city to pay its bills without making changes.
“The situation is he will probably be running for office again this year, and that might be one of the reasons he’s not helping out with the votes,” McGlothin said.
Reynolds said he is undecided on whether he will seek re-election and disputed McGlothin’s claims that his votes are politically motivated.
“My votes have always been no on fee increases and on tax increases. I have never once voted yes,” Reynolds said.
McGlothin said the city is down four fewer employees and has made other cuts in various departments.
He said municipalities cannot cover costs without making slight increases.
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