By Jeff Gallatin
City residents and businesses have a good chance of seeing increases in their sewer fees in 2014 due to increased use of the Rocky River Wastewater Treatment Plant by Bay Village.
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 per business. Bay has utilized the plant since 1982, along with Fairview Park, Rocky River and Westlake. Current figures show Bay Village paying $625,830 for operations and $71,711 for loans and capital improvements. However, initial projections from numbers given to Bay Village officials by Rocky River show Bay’s share of the costs will go from 16 to 24 percent.
Bay Village finance Director Renee Mahoney said the city is still waiting for final financial figures from Rocky River, but said it’s probably going to be at least $300,000 more annually. Those numbers have Bay officials saying an increase in the sewer fee appears likely.
“We’ll have to do something to pay for that big an increase,” said Mike Young, council vice president and chairman of the Finance Committee. “That’s not something that we can just absorb as a city with our current budget. This isn’t paid for out of the general fund budget. It’s paid for out of the sewer funds.”
Young said the city can’t project what type of increase in the fee might be needed until it sees final numbers about the projected changes.
‘We’d just like to make sure it’s fair, since ours is going up and the other cities’ appear to be going down,” he said.
Bay Village Mayor Debbie Sutherland said Bay Village has been utilizing the facilities more.
“Nothing is for free,” she said. “But, like other communities, we’ve had a series of (federal Environmental Protection Agency) mandates to respond to, or face problems with the EPA,” she said. “We’ve made a series of improvements and changes to meet those mandates. So, we’ve got better facilities, which are sending more flow into the Rocky River plant. That flow means our usage or share has gone up. That unfortunately means we’ll be paying more to pay for that increased use.”
Young said after council gets the final numbers from Rocky River, it will discuss what actions need to be taken during upcoming meetings on the 2014 city budget.
Rocky River Finance Director Mike Thomas said the funding of the treatment plant is based on flow studies and when a cities’ percentage of use goes up or down in the studies, it’s costs will correspond to that. He said the cities which use the plant have all been content with the studies and how they are used for the funding.