By Jeff Gallatin
Officials from the Rocky River Wastewater Treatment Plant and Bay Village will meet in January to discuss data relating to an expected increase in Bay Village’s sewer fees.
Bay Village Mayor Debbie Sutherland asked Rocky River Mayor Pam Bobst about seeking additional information after initial indicators from plant officials several weeks ago showed Bay Village would be looking at a rate increase. Bay City Council officials expressed concern about the potential rate hike and held a meeting with Sutherland and the city’s consulting engineers, CT Consultants, who indicated they had questions about some of the data used to compile a flow report, which is utilized by the cities involved in the treatment plant operation when setting rates. The meeting with CT prompted the Bay officials to seek information about whether equipment used in the flow study work had been properly calibrated and whether a rain gauge had correctly registered information.
Sutherland indicated she was pleased with the opportunity to ask questions of URS, the engineering firm for the treatment plant.
“It will give us the chance to seek additional information. That’s important to us when you’re talking about a rate hike that would affect our city,” she said.
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 Village utilizes the treatment plant along with Fairview Park, Rocky River and Westlake, with the cities sharing costs based on percentage of usage. Plant officials use flow studies to determine the usage by each city. The initial figures provided by Rocky River officials to Bay Village showed a jump in usage for Bay from 16 to 24 percent, leading Bay council members say a sewer rate increase would almost certainly be needed.
The report from Bay Village’s engineers, CT Consultants, at the Dec. 9 council sessions led to council members questioning whether the equipment used for the flow studies had been calibrated. They noted that there appeared to be some gaps in the data.
Sutherland said the questions could be resolved quickly when the treatment plant management committee meets in January.
“It could be solved with just a question or two, information brought by CT to the meeting or a phone call,” Sutherland said. “But we would like to get the information.”
Sutherland noted when the issue came up that Bay has made a series of improvements to its sewer lines as mandated by the federal Environmental Protection Agency to Bay Village and other cities. She said those improvements have made the lines more efficient and could have increased the flow through them.
Bobst said plant officials are happy to work with Bay on looking into the matter.
“We’ll be happy to have the meeting, and I’m sure URS will answer any questions that come up,” she said. “We weren’t aware of the concerns, but we’ll also have the plant director contact Mayor Sutherland as well.”
Bobst said there haven’t been any accuracy issues with the flow studies, but said URS will be able to check both information and on the equipment’s calibration.
Mike Young, chairman of Bay Village City Council’s Finance Committee, said the cooperation from the other cities involved in the plant will help resolve the issue.
He said Bay council will most likely wait on the results of the meeting before taking any action on sewer rates.
‘We’ll see what comes out of it in terms of information about the calibration and the rain gauge,” he said.
Young said council also will consider how needed renovations and improvements to city pump stations will affect the sewer budget. He noted the city doesn’t have funds available for major capital improvements, saying they likely would have to be paid for by utilizing sewer fee funds.