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Streetsboro residents will not see their water rates increase any more this year.
Council voted 4-2 recently against increasing rates by 5 percent, as was proposed by city administrators.
Voting against the increase were councilmen Jeff Allen, Tim Claypoole, Regis Faivre and Steve Michniak. Voting for the increase were councilwomen Julie Field and Bridget Pavlick. Councilman John Ruediger was absent.
A 3.75-percent water rate increase took effect earlier this year. Of that total, 1.75 percent goes to Portage County, which is where the city gets its water, and 2 percent goes to the city. The 5-percent increase would have been in addition to the 3.75 percent increase.
Mayor Glenn Broska said the 5 percent increase is important because it will help pay for water line improvements.
"We have citizens that have been waiting patiently for many years to get city water, and now they will continue to wait well beyond what they should," Broska said. "We have citizens that, because they are on dead-end lines, have had to suffer with poor quality water and premature aging of their heating elements in their water heaters. I'm sure they have incurred costs beyond what the increase in water rates would have been."
Broska said he applauds Field and Pavlick "for exhibiting the courage and commitment to our residents by taking a stand to raise rates so we can improve the infrastructure for the city."
Field said increasing the fees by an additional 5 percent "means being able to loop more water lines" in the future.
"We owe it to our residents go give them good water," Field said.
Claypoole said there is no need for an additional increase beyond the 3.75 percent increase that took effect earlier this year.
"We can get projects done (in the next 10 years) without the 5 percent increase," Claypoole said. "Nothing shows to me it warrants (a 5 percent increase)."
Council voted to examine the proposed increase again in January or February of 2015.
Broska said he believes not increasing the rates by another 5 percent will hurt the city in paying off a new water tower.
"Council's inaction will jeopardize our ability to pay off the bonds early," Broska said. "I am certainly not in the habit of advocating for increasing water rates. However, from 2006 through 2011, the county raised its water rates over 25 percent, and the prior administrations failed to pass on those increases, as required by legislation. Those failures have landed in my lap, and now I must take the unenviable position of trying to do what should have been done long ago."
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