WAUSEON - Local water consumers should expect to start paying more to cover the costs of state-mandated improvements to Wauseon's sewage treatment plant.
City Council last week passed a first reading of a six-stage rate increase that would more than double the typical family's water and sewer bills by April, 2014, with most of the bite occurring next November and April.
A customer now consuming 700 cubic feet of water per month, which city officials said represents a family average, now pays $43.37 in combined water and sewer charges. That would increase to $54.90 in November, $75.81 in April, and to $83.62, $90.11, $97.38, and $105.43 on April 1 of 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.
The minimum bill just to be connected to the system will increase from $14.40 to $34.69 per month during that time if the rate increases are approved.
The rate recommendations
were based on a study by Arcadis, a Toledo-based engineering firm, that reviewed Wauseon's water and sewer funds. The study compared them with other area communities' funds and assessed the impact of sewer-plant improvements ordered by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to reduce pollution from the facility.
The survey indicated that Wauseon's rates were below the average of the comparison group. The plant improvements, meanwhile, include construction of a wastewater equalization basin and sludge storage tanks that are expected to cost a combined $4.7 million.
At the utility committee's recommendation, council agreed to hold at least a second reading before passing the rate increase as an emergency measure. The committee recommendation also provides an option to conduct annual reviews of the rate increases in case one or more is later deemed financially unnecessary.
Council also passed, on third reading, a resolution waiving storm-sewer tap fees for residents whose home sewer systems currently feed into a combined storm and sewer system. Homeowners still will have to pay for their own labor and materials to connect to the new, separated lines.