By Jeff Gallatin
City residents are expected to get their chance soon to weigh in on the expected increase in sewer rates in the city.
Bay Village City Council Monday listened to a report from Bob Graytak, the CT Consultants engineer who has been representing the city in discussions with the Rocky River Wastewater Treatment Plant about sewer rate information. Both City Council and administration officials have said a sewer rate increase is likely as a result of sewer flow study data received from the Rocky River Wastewater Treatment board. The flow studies are used to set rates for the cities (Bay Village, Fairview Park, Rocky River and Westlake) that utilize the plant’s facilities. They have said based on the last flow rate data received, Bay Village is likely looking at an increase of between $300,000 and $400,000 in costs to the city. That would likely result in a large increase in rates to homeowners and businesses.
Currently, Bay homeowners pay $65 per quarter, while businesses pay $24.02 per mcf (1,000 cubic feet) with a minimum charge of $171 annually.
Dwight Clark, chairman of council’s Finance Committee, said council will be setting a public meeting prior to making a decision about the rates.
“I’m going to get together with (City Council President) Paul (Koomar) and we’ll look at the best time and ways to do it, such as a committee of the whole meeting,” Clark said. “We would like to have the best information possible before we proceed on this.”
Clark said having a public meeting about a rate increase is necessary.
“Considering how it would impact people, we would have to make sure we have a full public discussion and airing of the issue,” he said.
During the meeting, Clark expressed concern about how a rate hike would affect people on fixed incomes, such as retirees and senior citizens.
“It’s probably the most important decision we’re going to have to make in 2014,” he said prior to the meeting. “We’ve held off on increases in other areas like our trash fee and property taxes, but we’re going to have to deal with this issue.”
During his report, Graytak said the Rocky River Wastewater Treatment Plant board indicated it is willing to discuss and work on eliminating outdated test techniques used to obtain information for the flow studies, as well as obtain data from more than one line which serves Bay Bay Village. He said the board also is willing to discuss moving the frequency of the studies from four years to three. However, he said there is no “smoking gun” pointing to a reason for the apparent higher numbers in the most recent study information, which likely will lead to an increase in Bay’s sewer rates.
Mayor Debbie Sutherland has said she anticipates rates going up when the next bills go out after April 1, with council members also noting action has to be taken soon.