Council eyes higher water, sewer charges
Reynoldsburg residents will likely pay higher water bills in 2013 but the 6-percent increase is lower than last year's rate hike, according to City Auditor Richard Harris.
Council's finance committee agreed during committee meetings Nov. 5 to send legislation requesting higher water and sewer charges on to the full council for a first reading at its Nov. 13 meeting.
Water Superintendent Mike Root said the rate hike is necessary because Columbus raised its water rates and Reynoldsburg purchases water from the city of Columbus.
Harris said rate increases in past years have been much higher.
"This is one of the lowest increases we've experienced," he said.
Last year's water rate increase was 9.5 percent; the increase for 2011 was 9 percent and the increase for 2010 was 10.5 percent, according to a chart Root provided.
The proposed water rates for 2013 would increase the 2012 charge of $6.12 per 1,000 gallons to $6.49 per 1,000 gallons, effective on Jan. 1, 2013.
Root said Columbus rates went up 4 percent, but the additional 2 percent increase in Reynoldsburg rates is necessary to offset the city's water capacity fee income and to pay for replacing old water lines.
Harris said the city is experiencing a great deal of "line loss" due to old lines.
"We have a number of old water lines in the Brookside area that are 50 to 60 years old," he said. "A 15- to 20-percent average line loss is acceptable, but we are at least twice that now."
Sewer rates would rise along with water rates in January, from $6.51 per 1,000 gallons to $6.78 per 1,000 gallons, a 4-percent increase, according to Root's request for legislation.
Root asked that the ordinance include emergency language, but with three readings of the legislation, so the rate hikes would be effective when Mayor Brad McCloud would sign the ordinance into law.
Councilwoman Leslie Kelly asked about water line repairs, which included estimates of $945,803 for Phase I and Phase II repairs in the Huber area for 2012 and $55,000 for miscellaneous water projects in 2013.
"We need to communicate to the public about these increases," she said.
Harris said the community improvement plan (CIP) has a "funding mechanism" in place to pay for the water line repairs by spreading out amounts to be added to residents' water bills.
"Seven or eight years ago, our capital improvements for water were funded by tap-in fees, but that revenue is almost gone," he said.
He said an insert to explain the rate hikes could be added to water bills when they are mailed to residents.
Councilman Chris Long said even with the rate hikes, Reynoldsburg water and sewer rates would "still be well below a number of the communities surrounding us."
According to a water and sewer rate comparison chart given to council members, Reynoldsburg's 2013 water rates would be lower than those in Gahanna, Hilliard, Upper Arlington, Dublin and Bexley, but higher than those of Columbus and Grove City.
Council's Nov. 13 meeting will start at 7:30 p.m. at the Reynoldsburg Municipal Building, 7232 E. Main St.