121 water-main breaks
After rate hike, additional fee may fund fixes
Reynoldsburg water rates rose this month, but an additional increase is on its way if City Council members approve an ordinance requested by the service director and water superintendent.
Resident water rates went up 6 percent Jan. 1 when the city of Columbus raised its rates. Reynoldsburg purchases water from Columbus.
The 2013 rate is $6.49 per 1,000 gallons, up from the 2012 rate of $6.12 per 1,000 gallons.
Sewer rates also rose Jan. 1, to $6.78 from $6.51 per 1,000 gallons -- a 4 percent increase.
Service Director Nathan Burd and Water Superintendent Mike Root proposed adding additional fees to residents' water and sewer bills: a Capital Improvements Project fee of $1 per 1,000 gallons of water usage and 50 cents per 1,000 gallons of sewer usage.
Burd and Root explained the fee to Reynoldsburg council members during a Finance Committee meeting Jan. 22.
Burd said the extra fee would pay to replace deteriorating water lines.
"Many of the water lines in the city are 50 to 60 years old," he said. "The deteriorating condition of the lines requires ongoing repair."
Root said 121 emergency main-break repairs have been completed by water department staff over the last three years.
"Additionally, an estimated $1.68 million worth of water purchased from the city of Columbus is projected to go unused in 2013 due to line loss," he said.
Burd said the fees would generate about $1.3 million per year.
He said the city's Capital Improvement Plan identified more than $5.3 million in water projects and more than $2.6 million in sanitary sewer projects that would need to be completed in the city over the next five years.
"Revenue from the (Capital Improvements Project) fee will allow for the prioritization and funding of projects identified in the Capital Improvement Plan," he said.
"Water and sewer rates are expected to go up every year," he said. "Establishing a CIP fee will allow us to direct funds to necessary projects and use the standard rates for operational expenses. This will enable us to minimize the amount of annual increase required above and beyond the Columbus rates."
How much water bills will increase depends on individual usage, Root said.
Councilwoman Monica DeBrock said she figured it out for her household.
"We would pay about $7.50 extra a month," she said. "I think it is a good way to pay for improvements we need."
"People will only be charged for what they use," Root said. "No one wants to raise fees and rates, but we have to pay for these projects somehow."
"No one wants to pay more," DeBrock said, "but it is a shame how much water is being wasted. The biggest thing it may do is remind people to conserve water and take care of leaking faucets."
The committee agreed to send the ordinance for a first reading in front of the full council Monday, Jan. 28, with a recommendation for adoption after the third reading.