Sewer rates to increase Jan. 1

City passes on costs to residents to maintain sewer fund

by Holly Schoenstein | reporter Published:

Tallmadge -- As of Jan. 1, households in Tallmadge will notice an increase in their sewer bills of up to 25 percent per quarterly billing cycle.

That's because the city of Tallmadge is passing on the increases the Summit County Department of Environmental Services and the city of Akron have been charging for sewer-related services in an attempt to maintain the money in Tallmadge's sewer fund, according to city officials.

"I believe in the past it was a decision of [City] Council and the administration because we did have such a large fund balance not to tack on some of these increases from the county and Akron," Public Service Director Bryan Esler said. "Unfortunately, we can no longer do that. We are going to have to make these increases."

Sewers treated by the county, which is about one-third of Tallmadge households and businesses, will see a 10 percent rate increase, while customers treated by the city of Akron, will get a 25 percent hike.

County customers pay a minimum of $110 quarterly for water usage of less than 2,000 cubic feet, and city of Akron customers pay at least $72.63 for the same water consumption, according to Esler.

He said the proposed increases won't promote growth in the sewer fund but rather will allow the city to continue its existing operations.

"If we don't raise the rates, the sewer fund will be depleted by the end of 2013, which would force the city to finance the sewer charges from our general fund which is used to pay for things like street paving, snow plowing, leaf collection and all the other operations of the city," Esler said.

The rate increases will remain in effect until Akron or the county changes the rates they bill Tallmadge, Esler said.

Tallmadge buys its water for residents from the city of Akron, but isn't planning to raise those rates in the near future, he said. Dr. Tom Pascarella, the city's director of administration, called the sewer fund a "big problem" and the "biggest challenge" in the city's 2013 budget.

Director of Finance Steve Shanafelt said at the end of 2012 the balance in the sewer fund will be around $1.5 million. The revenue raised through the rate increases will allow the balance in the fund to stay around $1.3 million in 2013, he said.

The rates for households with sewers serviced by the county were last increased in March of 2012. Esler said he knew at that time the increases for those customers wouldn't bring in enough revenue to cover what the county was charging Tallmadge, but he chose to implement the increases in increments rather than impose one large rate hike.

Akron customers' sewer rates were last raised in 2010, he said.

Email: hschoenstein@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9428

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