Ravenna ponders sewer rate increase

By Jennifer L. Smith Record-Courier staff writer Published:

The extra money is needed to help repay the city's loan for an estimated $7 million expansion and improvement of the Ravenna wastewater treatment plant. The project will double the plant's capacity and improve water quality, officials say.

Ravenna City Council will hold a public work session before voting on the proposed sewer rate increase at city council's August meeting, said Clerk of Council Kathy Halay.

"The wastewater treatment plant is currently at or above capacity, which is causing problems with hydraulic overloading and EPA violations," Ravenna Utilities Director Carl Ganocy said. "The plant expansion will allow for future expansion in the city, both industrial, commercial and residential. It should eliminate the overloading and EPA violations, which affect water quality."

Ganocy said poor water quality in the receiving stream could cause problems for the stream's inhabitants.

The base sewer rate must increase 30 percent and the tap-in fee for new customers must increase 456 percent to cover the expansion and future operating costs, according to the study.

"Current sewer rates are insufficient to cover existing costs," the study reported. "Without the expansion and improvements project, an increase of approximately 5 to 8 percent would be required just to cover existing operating and maintenance costs."

At its last meeting, the Ravenna Finance Committee selected a one-step, 30 percent increase in the year 2000 that will raise the sewer rate $4.84 per month, based on an average monthly usage of 700 cubic feet per household.

The alternative presented in the study was a two-step increase, which would raise the average monthly bill $5.18 after an 18 percent increase in 2000 and a 12 percent increase in 2001.

Both options increase the tap-in fee for new single-family residential customers from $270 to $1,500, which will be effective in 1999.

Commercial, industrial and multi-family users will also increase by 456 percent.

Tap-in fees will increase by the largest percentage because the growth in the service area is the reason for the plant expansion, Ganocy said.

"The wastewater treatment plant is being expanded to account for growth in the service area," the study reported. "Increasing the tap-in fee puts a financial burden on the new user contributing to this growth and decreases the burden on the current user."

Statistics from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and Portage County Water Resources show that present Ravenna sewer rates are average in comparison to surrounding wastewater treatment plants.

Ravenna placed eighth out of 15 surveyed plants with sewer rates of $428 per year, based on consumption of 1,037 cubic feet per month.

Avon Lake was the least expensive with annual fees of $152, and Hiram ranked the most expensive at $907 per year.

After the rate increase, Ravenna will surpass Kent, Elyria, North Olmsted and Painesville, which have annual sewer rates ranging from $382 to $459.

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