STEUBENVILLE — Customers in the Jefferson County Water and Sewer District will soon pay more for their service.
Commissioners voted 2-1 on Thursday to raise rates, the first such increase since 2004. Dissenting commissioner Tom Graham later said he “I couldn’t put that on people.”
“(He) raises rates by 3% every year for six years,” said Graham. “That’s an 18% increase. Some people will see a 40% increase over six years. There’s no way I can support that. All proposals are a huge increase. With inflation and gas prices the way they are, there’s no way I can blame this on people.
The new water rate structure plans to lower the base allowance to 2,000 gallons with a $5 monthly infrastructure charge added to cover future water system projects and debt service for previous projects.
The base rate will be $33.79 for the first 2,000 gallons used, then $10 for each additional 1,000 gallons used. Base water rates will increase by 3% in 2025 ($36.86), again in 2027 ($37.97) and again in 2029 ($39.11).
On the sewer side, the base allowance has also been reduced to 2,000 gallons
The sewer rate structure would also reduce the base sewer allowance to 2,000 gallons. Base rates will increase by 3% every two years for five years, starting in 2024, when rates will climb to $46.09. In 2026, the base rate will increase to $47.48, then in 2028, to $48.90.
District Water and Sewer Manager Mike Eroshevich estimates the changes will generate an additional $1.2 million for the water department and $295,000 on the wastewater side of the ledger.
In a letter to commissioners asking them to consider a rate hike, he pointed out that they were not generating enough revenue under the old rate system to “to meet our current operational needs, debt service payments, future infrastructure improvements and the expansion of our water system.”
“We’ve been looking at these numbers for a long time, how many different proposals,” said Commissioner Dave Maple. “If we want to run the county like a business, we have to run the county like a business. I don’t lose sight of the success of that – we’ve been able to maintain lower rates than 2004 rates until today: it’s 2022, what can other utilities say for how many years we haven’t not raise prices? Not a lot.”
Eroshevich said 8,000 water customers and about 3,600 sewer customers will be affected by the decision, although Maple was quick to point out that Richmond water customers are exempt from paying the higher rates. high, at least for now: when they joined the county water system, they were guaranteed that their rates would not change for three years. Maple said the bell wouldn’t ring for 18 months.
Commissioner Tony Morelli said they really had no choice.
“It’s a simple calculation” he said. “The water service spends more money than it brings in. If we don’t, we will lose grant opportunities and other sources of funding. I’m not a Monday morning quarterback, but this should have been done earlier in small increments, but (it wasn’t). That’s why it must be so big now.
He said one of the good things about the option they chose is “Low-end users were least affected.”
“It’s the one with the least impact” Morelle said. “We have to get there somehow, and the $5 infrastructure fee is important to me, we’re doing it.”
Graham, meanwhile, said the Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association has asked member counties, cities and townships participating in the opioid settlement to adopt a memorandum of understanding and appoint a commissioner to serve on its board of directors. 21 counties.
“For at least 20 years, every county, city and township administrator will receive settlement money,” said Graham.
“I’m good with it” Morelle said. “I just want to say thank you for taking the lead on this project. I know that’s a lot of meetings.
Maple also applauded the effort, saying it’s a case of “The government is coming back to doctors and opioid manufacturers and saying, ‘You’re costing taxpayers a lot of money by your wrong doings. “”
The commissioners passed the resolution and also nominated Graham to continue as their representative.
In other subjects:
≤ Morelli has been authorized to sign the loan and grant agreement for the Smithfield Wastewater Treatment Plant and Pumping Station Rehabilitation Project. The county can draw up to $3,367,000 from a USDA loan, plus a USDA grant of $1 million.
“We get that plus $1 million from the Army Corps of Engineers,” said Eroshevich.
The EPA had asked the county to take over the project after the Village of Smithfield failed to repay its loan and the system fell into non-compliance, offering funding to complete the work. The village subsequently dissolved.
The contractor, SET, Inc. of Lowellville, Ohio, has been notified to proceed. The company will have 270 days to complete “substantial completion” work on February 13.
≤ Amsterdam sewer customers were given the green light to start connecting to the new system on May 25.
Eroshevich said they will have someone at the plant, “ready to go over there and do the inspections.
≤ The contract for the Barber Hollow UV disinfection project has been awarded to Border Patrol, Hopedale. The company had offered $402,150 for the work.
≤ Eroshevich told commissioners that JSWD received $48,750 in EPA grants to help map lead service lines in its four water systems.
“We’ll probably do something similar to what the city of Steubenville did, send a letter asking the owners (to check their lines and tell us what they know),” said Eroshevich.
He said most homes have outdoor meters, so the lines can be inspected right at the meter head. When meters are inside a customer’s home, however, “We will have to gain access inside the house or send letters.”
The county is responsible for identifying equipment on the customer side of the line, but not for replacing it, which Maple said was problematic for it.
“As county commissioner, I think we are on the edge of the abyss” whether the feds are going to force them to go to people’s homes and tell them they’ll have to pay to replace the lines out of their own pocket.
“It’s a slippery slope” he said.
≤ Maple also asked Arcadis, the county engineer, to use local printers after noticing a $1,000 bill for printing and office supplies.
≤ Holding a second public hearing for the Jefferson County and City of Toronto CHIP program for the 2022 program year.
≤ Agreed to re-bid for third floor courtroom renovations.
The two general contractors who had planned to bid on the project pulled out last week when they were unable to get quotes for the woodwork.
Maintenance supervisor Patrick Boles told marshals the benches had to be “stripped, restrained and back” need some work.
Maple suggested offering woodworking as an alternative, but Boles recommended that they “Let the general contractor handle it and see what happens.”
“If they had had a quote for the woodworking (last week) we would have had offers,” he said. “It’s a small bump.”