Written by Kelly Kaczala
Friday, 03 October 2008 15:56
Some residents in Northwood could see their water and sewer rates go up if Northwood becomes a member of the Northwest Sewer and Water District.
Most residents who will be affected live in the older Homecraft Edition on the west end of Northwood. Toledo currently provides Homecraft with water and sewer services.
Northwood, which held a public forum on the matter, will hold another forum later this month.
“Basically, the lines out there are very old,” said Mayor Mark Stoner last week.
Eight years ago, Stoner asked the city engineer how much it would cost to replace the lines.
“At that time, it was $1 million,” said Stoner.
“There have been talks about giving those lines up to the district. Of course, they will take the responsibility for replacements. The bad thing is, residents’ rates will go up, too. It’s difficult to tell anyone their rates are going to be more,” said Stoner.
“They won’t put all new lines in, but they’ll take over responsibility. They’re in a better financial situation than we are to replace the lines,” said Stoner.
City council must approve legislation to become a member of the district.
Council has given the proposed legislation three readings, then tabled the measure at a meeting Sept. 25.
Stoner said the rate increase will be phased in over five years, making it more tolerable to the public.
“I know there are people on fixed incomes. Nobody wants to have to pay more for something,” said Stoner.
“From the city’s point of view, it’s the best thing. If a major line would break over there, we wouldn’t have the money for repairs. So we would have to somehow fix it, then assess those residents. So they would end up paying for it anyway,” said Stoner.
Besides Toledo, the city also receives water and sewer services from the City of Oregon.
“Right now, the city doesn’t have a contract with the City of Toledo for the Homecraft area,” Law Director Brian Ballenger said at the forum last month. “The reason is because your rates are lower right now than people in Toledo actually get. The contract ran out years ago, and it was always debated do we go ahead and talk to them about renewing it because we knew then it was going to jump up. We’re concerned your rates would jump up immediately if we got involved with Toledo. Toledo now knows there’s no contract there, and they’ve already said they’re going to start upping the rates.”
Councilman Dave Gallaher said Toledo has sharply increased rates to other communities by as much as 150 percent more than it charges Toledo residents.
“We haven’t seen that yet, but it’s just a matter of time,” Gallaher said at the forum. “I guess you have to weigh what the cost benefit is. The rates will go up. I guarantee it. What you have to look at is what the cost and benefit is.
“We know that’s coming. They already told us,” said Ballenger. “The district at this time has come to us and asked us would you like us to handle all your water and sanitary sewer? We want to let everyone know what the possibilities are and have some public meetings so we can hear what you’re saying. Council has not made any decision on this, and they won’t until later this year.”
A second public forum on the topic will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 23 at the Northwood Fire Department District No. 1 Station, 2100 Tracy Road.