Pataskala City Council adopted tiered water and sewer rates by a 6-1 vote, but split much more closely on the question of whether the current flat-rate structure should be maintained.

Pataskala City Council adopted tiered water and sewer rates by a 6-1 vote, but split much more closely on the question of whether the current flat-rate structure should be maintained.

Under a tiered-rate structure, the per-gallon charge for water and sewer varies depending on whether the user is small volume or high volume.

Newly seated council member Dan Hayes argued that the savings for low-end users would be insignificant, and the cost to high-end users would be large. He said it wouldn't make sense given the city's policy of attracting new businesses that would be the high-volume users.

"I am of the opinion that the flat-rate schedule is the most appropriate under the circumstances," Hayes said. "I know our engineer made a case for the tiered system, but at least in my mind I'm not sure we were given the right kind of data to make the determination that the way the tier is set up and charged is reflective of the stress on the system from heavy users."

Council member Bernard Brush said the engineer's study showed a tiered system would be adopted eventually.

"It's not an unlimited supply of water; it's not an unlimited supply of sewer services," Brush said. "The biggest move we've talked about in the last several years is the greening of the community. We're part of that MORPC (Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission) greening.

"We have to show we are somehow conserving resources. If someone turns on the spigot, we don't have an unlimited amount to pour in," he said. "I'm not saying this tier is the one. We've got three or four more months. If anyone has any other suggestions, I'm all for that."

Hayes said the proposed tier discriminates against users that should be favored.

"If the idea is, we're going to punish higher users because we want to make the community more green, that's an argument you can make, but it's not one that I adopt," he said.

Brush said he would accept Hayes' arguments about how tiers were charged, but that the main point was to establish a tier that would address system volume because system volume drives costs.

Hayes argued that the savings for small users was too insignificant to matter.

"If you are on the tiered rate and you are below 3,000 gallons (monthly usage), you are paying $4.99," Hayes said. "If you are on the flat rate, you are paying $5.23 per thousand gallons, so you're saving 24 cents per thousand gallons.

"To contrast that, the people we're trying to attract to the area, being large businesses and manufacturing, would see a difference between $5.23 on the flat rate and $8.23 on the tiered rate, for maximum usage. That's an increase of $3.00 per thousand gallons.

"That doesn't seem like a good tradeoff for savings of 24 cents on the minimum user. I understand that it's generally accepted, or at least that's what the study says, that the higher-volume users create more strain on the system. I'm not sure I get the way that this framework was created."

City administrator Tim Boland said council could table the rate-structure question to allow further evaluation, or it could stick with a flat-rate fee system, but he discouraged council from amending the tiered structure on the spot, without taking a few weeks to evaluate any changes.

Council rejected Hayes' concerns by a 4-3 vote, with Merissa McKinstry and council president Barb Triplett joining Hayes and Brush, Bryan Lenzo, Pat Sagar and Joe Gernert supporting the engineer's recommendation.