Village council heard the first reading Monday of an ordinance that would increase water and sewer rates in Canal Winchester.

Village council heard the first reading Monday of an ordinance that would increase water and sewer rates in Canal Winchester.

It would also increase sewer rates in Lithopolis, which is on Canal Winchester's sewer system.

"None of us like to raise the rates but it looks like we're going to have to," Councilwoman Leah Turner said. "Right now, our revenues don't meet the expenditures."

In 2009, an average Canal Winchester household using roughly 10,000 gallons of water per year paid $111 per billing cycle for water and sewer services. There are six billing cycles per year.If the fee increases are adopted, that cost per billing cycle will increase to $113.46 in 2010; $115.14 in 2011; $117.86 in 2012; $119.18 in 2013 and $121 in 2014.

On average, village finance director Nanisa Osborn said she is recommending an across-the-board increase of 24 cents per 1,000 gallons in 2010 for combined water and sewer service fees. By 2014, those fees would be about 70 cents per 1,000 gallons higher than they are now.

According to the proposal, sewer fees for Lithopolis residents would increase from from $3.05 to $3.82 per 1,000 gallons between 2010 and 2014.Osborn has said the proposed fee increases would fund day-to-day operations.

"As with everything else, costs to treat water and sewer have increased," Osborn has said.

She stressed that the higher fees would not pay for increased employee salaries.

"There were no employee raises in 2009 and there's none for 2010," she said.

She told council Monday that 2009 "was a year of declining income" for Canal Winchester. The budget was so tight that, "I held my breath all through December," she said.

Related to the local utilities, Steven Smith, manager of water reclamation, reported that a new sludge press put into operation in April 2009 has shown a 25-percent overall savings on sludge disposal to date.

"When factors such as optimization and a complete calendar production year are considered, we actually expect even greater savings in the future," Smith stated in his report.

Public works director Matt Peoples said the cost savings with the new sludge press were a welcome surprise.

"When we went into sludge press project, we didn't bank on a high rate of return, or return on investment," Peoples said.

He said the idea was instead to create "much more reliability."