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Published: Tuesday, 10/26/2010

Wauseon council cancels scheduled water, sewer hikes

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

WAUSEON - For the second time since adopting a series of rate increases for Wauseon's water and sewer utilities last year, city council has voted to ease the pain - this time by canceling the scheduled boosts.

"The initial increase that we put in place has boosted our account by $300,000," Karen Krumm, chairman of council's utilities committee, said after the unanimous vote to cancel a 25 percent water increase that originally was scheduled for last April but was postponed until Nov. 1. "That has proven sufficient to meet the bills at this point."

Mayor Jerry Dehnbostel emphasized, "We didn't kick it down the road. We kicked it out." Later stages of what was initially approved as a six-phase rate increase - 10 percent next April 1 and 5 percent increases for the three ensuing Aprils - remain subject to review before they take effect, he said.

Also canceled was a 13 percent sewer-rate increase.

A residential customer consuming 700 cubic feet of water a month, which city officials say is a typical family's use, now pays $64.18 in combined water and sewer charges a month - which includes a $9.26 surcharge added in April to cover debt for a sewer-plant project and a 35 percent jump in water rates imposed in November.

The postponed, and now canceled, water-rate increase would have boosted the typical family's combined bill to $75.82.

Wauseon utility customers' next scheduled rate increase, on April 1, would boost the typical monthly water and sewer bill to $70.78, finance director Jon Schamp said.

The sewage-plant project, which features the construction of lagoons to handle sewage that otherwise would overflow into local streams, was developed in response to Ohio Environmental Protection Agency demand that Wauseon separate its storm drains and sanitary sewers. The project is to be finished by July.

Mr. Schamp reported later in the week that, as of the Sept. 30 billing from Mosser Construction, general-contract work on the $2.87 million sewer plant upgrade was 45 percent finished.

Water-rate increases were based on rising costs for treatment chemicals, and city officials developed the five-year plan to more than double rates because they feared consumption would decline even as operating costs rose. But Mr. Schamp has since described that plan as a worst-case scenario.

Also during its meeting last week, council voted to withdraw from a grant agreement with the Ohio Department of Transportation under which Wauseon was to have received $89,200 toward the cost of building a shelter house and trail-

head along the Wabash

Cannonball Heritage

Corridor trail in the city.

City officials decided that Wauseon could no longer afford to fund the local match for the project, which was about $30,000 when the grant was awarded three years ago but had risen to about

$60,000.



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