Westerville residents and businesses will see an increase in water and sewer prices in 2016.

Westerville residents and businesses will see an increase in water and sewer prices in 2016.

At Westerville City Council's regular meeting Dec. 1, members passed an ordinance that adds an average of $3.75 per month to water bills and raises sewer rates by 4 percent, or $1.96 per month on an average bill.

According to a memo to council from Finance Director Lee Ann Shortland, the water increase served "to offset increased operational, capital and debt service costs in the Water Fund for 2016."

The increase applies to all residential and business customers and will affect them differently based on usage. Water Utility Manager Richard Lorenz said those who use more water will see a larger percentage increase than those who use little.

At the meeting, Shortland said water rates would still be lower than surrounding areas.

"Provided no surrounding communities had any rate increase and Westerville still had (our) water rate increase, we would remain the lowest in central Ohio with a very high-quality product," she said.

The sewer rate increase stems from Columbus -- which provides water treatment services to Westerville -- raising its rates by 3 percent.

Westerville added another percent for its own expenses.

According to the city's website, the current sewer rate is $5.62 per 100 cubic feet, based on usage. Water rates are now $1.57 to $3.21 per Ccf, which is equivalent to 748 gallons of water. Minimum charges apply.

The ordinance set water rates at $1.92 to $3.76 per Ccf while sewer rates are $5.85 per Ccf.

Council member Mike Heyeck said he wanted to clarify that Columbus doesn't do everything sewer-related for Westerville.

"We have sewer pipes," he said. "Columbus treats our water, but the sewers under the ground in the city are ours. So that's the part that adds to it."

"We also have salaries and wages that are coming out of that, and administration and maintenance and all the pipes and capital improvements," Shortland added.

Tim Davey was the only council member to comment on the issue, asking for percentage figures on the dollar amounts and expressing his concerns.

"(The increase), on average, is a lot, I think, for the lower-income and fixed-income residents," he said. "It's a large increase for a significant part of our population. No fault being laid anywhere, I just want to point that out."

The ordinance was approved unanimously.