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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

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        Oregon City Council recently voted unanimously to increase the water rates for the water treatment plant and water distribution system, and sewer rates for the wastewater treatment plant and sanitary sewer system.

        The new rates will be spread out over a three year period, according to Public Service Director Paul Roman.

        The water rate will increase by 15 percent next year, 10 percent in 2020, and 10 percent in 2021. The sewer rate will increase by 10 percent next year, 5 percent in 2020, and 5 percent in 2021, according to Roman.

        “At the end of three years – in 2021 – the minimum bill will go up by about $18 per quarter,” he said. “The average is double that - $36 per quarter at the end of three years.”

        Forty percent of residents meet the minimum rate requirement.

        City Administrator Mike Beazley said at a committee of the whole meeting last month that there were several reasons why the rates were being hiked, including:

  • Increased algae and microcystin in the lake;
  • Increased regulations dealing with corrosion prevention throughout the system;
  • Increased mandates from the EPA to upgrade the wastewater treatment plant;
  • Addressing the aging water pipe infrastructure system.

        “Cities that don’t stay ahead of that end up with catastrophic problems and we don’t want that to be Oregon,” said Beazley.”Most of the water lines will have 80-100 years of life. We have some that are getting that old now. On top of that, a lot of the ductile iron that was produced in the 50s and 60s has a short shelf life. Some of the neighborhoods and parks in the community that are served by that ductile iron are having far too many water line breaks. We’re going to have to get our grip on that.”

       

Lowest rates

        Many communities increase rates every year, said Beazley.

        “You could argue that it’s a responsible approach. We don’t like to do increases. We’ve gone a good long time without across the board increases in more than 10 years,” he said.

        “We do have the lowest water and sewer rates combined in the region, perhaps the lowest in Ohio,” he continued. “Even after these rate increases are done, we’ll still have the lowest rates. That doesn’t mean we have the lowest costs for service. Oregon, in some ways, is relatively more expensive to serve. We’re 28 square miles and we have fewer customers per mile of pipe for both water and sewer. It costs us more to serve that population spread over a broad area. But our independent water system…provides us with flexibility. All in all, it’s been an excellent value and really managed by our public service team in an excellent way.”

       

High standards

        Mayor Mike Seferian noted the high standards of its water treatment plant.

       “We not only have kept up with the latest and greatest processes to produce water, we’re ahead of the curve, and we like to stay there. We like to keep all of our infrastructure in good shape. So we will see [rate increases] from time to time. We can produce great water, great product, and get it to the people’s houses in a safe and reasonable manner,” he said.

        “Our rate payers are fairly fortunate,” said Councilman James Seaman. “Our bills are not that high for water and sewer compared to other communities. In many other communities, their bills are so high, they get billed every month. We build every quarter because it’s a reasonable amount of money.”

        Notices of the rate increases will be mailed to customers in the first bill in 2019, said Roman.

        “We want to give a nice, simple explanation,” he said.

        The last time water rates went up was in 2006, and in 2009 for sewer rates, according to Roman.

        The operating expenses of the water treatment plant and wastewater treatment plant have doubled since that time, he said.

       

       

       

       

       

       

 

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