Rossford Mayor Neil A. MacKinnon III in his office in November, 2017.
As several communities in northwest Ohio continue to explore regional water options, one of the entities involved in discussions is examining ways to potentially lower rates for its customers.
The Northwestern Water & Sewer District recently announced it is searching for an independent consultant to perform a thorough rate study for residential, multifamily, business, and industrial customers. The study will also investigate the possibility of implementing assistance programs for low-income users and senior citizens.
President Jerry Greiner said the District performs rate studies every three to five years.
“It gets complicated, but you’re trying to allocate a certain amount of your operating expenses to a minimum portion,” Mr. Greiner said. “Our approach will be the low-end minimum users. For example, a one-person household that doesn’t have much usage. Are they being billed at a reasonable amount based on basic cost of delivery to provide service to a residential user?”
The District’s residential customers pay a $15.69 monthly fixed rate, but average water bills are typically much higher and vary by location. One piece of the study will look at implementing more uniform rates.
Mr. Greiner says he hears from residential users using high amounts of water, low amounts, and everything in between. He said the entity — which purchases water from Toledo — will focus on the lower end in an attempt to help those customers save.
The study will also examine industrial usage. Mr. Greiner said the District’s two largest customers are First Solar and Charter Steel, and both are in favor of the decreasing block system.
That rate structure operates with the largest water users receiving the most forgiving rates.
“The conservationists and others have determined it should be the opposite; the more you use, there should be a penalty and some effort to conserve water,” Mr. Greiner said. “So that’s the dilemma utility organizations have gone through. We’ve never offered a decreasing block, so that’s the goal here — to figure that part out.”
The District provides water to several communities in Wood County, including Rossford and Perrysburg Township. Rossford residents have raised concerns about their water bill for years.
“I’m for anything that lowers water and sewer rates, but most importantly, lessens the burden on the citizens of Rossford,” Mayor Neil MacKinnon said. “We’re eight miles from the largest chain of fresh water on Earth. We should have some of the lowest rates and not the highest.”
Mr. Greiner said proposals for the study will be accepted soon, and the District will likely select a contractor by Nov. 1. The study is expected to be completed by fall of next year.
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