Marysville residents could see sewer rates increase in future years, but those increases could be less severe if large development projects - Jerome Village, for example - get off to a good start.

Marysville residents could see sewer rates increase in future years, but those increases could be less severe if large development projects - Jerome Village, for example - get off to a good start.

City council entertained the first reading of an ordinance on June 24 that would institute a tiered structure of sewer rate increases, with the increase first felt by taxpayers in 2012.

City officials said that after making conservative estimates on sewer rate income in the coming years, the increases may not be as steep as they could be. In a presentation to council, city administrator Jillian Froment said the finance committee may have found a way to use previously accrued funds to cut down on the increases felt by residents.

Currently, Marysville has about $4.1-million in Fund 34, an incremental sewer fund that was created for construction of a water reclamation station, Froment said. That station is nearly completed, and $4.1-million would remain after its completion. City officials are proposing that council approve transferring money from that fund to Fund 35, which is used for wastewater treatment system bonds.

If approved by council, $1.3-million would be transferred in 2011 (canceling any needed increase that year), $1.5-million would be transferred in 2012, $1-million in 2013 and $300,000 in 2014.

Also included would be a three-tiered rate increase. Tier 1 would include single-family-sized users, or 0-200 cubic feet per month, increased two percent; tier 2, multi-family-sized users, or 201-1,500 cubic feet per month, increased to four percent; and for commercial-sized users, or more than 1,501 cubic feet, an increase of eight percent.

In practical terms, that would mean a single family's monthly sewer bill would remain the same at $34.59 in 2011, increase to $35.65 in 2012, $38.86 in 2013, $41.97 for 2014 and 2015, and then begin to decrease again to $39.8 in 2016. Larger users would feel a more significant increase: the top three businesses in the city would see their 2011 monthly bill of $11,903 increase to $12,852 in 2012; $14,008 in 2013; and $15,129 in 2014 before beginning to decrease.

Froment said that without the infusion of money from Fund 34, the figures could have been more severe.

"We were looking at anywhere from a 15 to 20 percent increase in 2011 otherwise," she said. "We've asked our legal counsel, and they feel comfortable with this course of action."

City users might not even see rate increases of that level, if economic factors begin to improve, Froment said. As part of the ordinance, city officials must re-evaluate the figures each year.

"The first thing to keep in mind is that we've used a very conservative estimate of what growth in the city would bring us," Froment said. "We factored that growth at 2.7 percent, and we did not factor in Jerome Village."

"We've looked at every option to help keep these rates down," said Andrew Brossert of Fifth Third Securities, who provides financial counsel for Marysville. "I agree with Jillian that these are very conservative estimates."

City council will entertain three readings of the ordinance before taking a vote.

lrice@thisweeknews.com