[ back ]
Groveport City Council will review water rate increase options
How much will water rates increase in Groveport?
Groveport City Council plans to discuss potential water rate increases for customers on the Groveport water system at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 20 in the municipal building, 655 Blacklick St.
The current water rate is $4.24 per 1,000 gallons used. CT Consultants proposed the following water rate percentage increases for those on the Groveport water system:
•20 percent for 2012 ($5.09 per 1,000 gallons), 2013 ($6.11 per 1,000 gallons), 2014 ($7.33 per 1,000 gallons) and 2015 ($8.79 per 1,000 gallons);
•12 percent in 2016 ($9.85 per 1,000 gallons); and
•3 percent in 2017 ($10.14 per 1,000 gallons).
Under these percentages, CT Consultants estimated the average quarterly water bill (including water, sewer charges, storm water utility fees, Clean Water Act costs and water plant construction debt and operating costs) for those on Groveport water as follows: 2012: $179.49; 2013: $197.69; 2014: $219.07; 2015: $244.24; 2016: $263.32; and 2017: $271.02
City Administrator Marsha Hall said council must consider water rate increase because the money will be needed to finance the construction of Groveport's new $3.17 million water plant. Council approved building the new water plant at its June 25 meeting.
"New rates have to be in effect before any construction can begin," said Hall, who said work on the new water plant could begin by late 2013.
Hall said city officials are working on coming up with their own set of water rate alternatives as well as financing options for the new water plant, which will be built on the same site where the existing water plant sits on South Hamilton Road.
One financing option is off the table as Hall said the Ohio EPA indicated it will not provide a loan because it believes Groveport should contract with Columbus for water services.
Hall said other other financing options include pursuing a general obligation bond, seeking an Ohio Water Development Authority loan or using some of the city's rainy day fund to pay for the new water plant.
"We could use part of the rainy day fund to lower the overall cost of the water plant project," said Hall.
She said using a general obligation bond would mean paying for the new water plant out of the city's general fund, which could limit spending for future capital projects the city is planning.
Finance Director Jeff Green said the rainy day fund is expected to total $1.5 million by the end of 2012.
City officials said, if the rainy day fund is used, the ordinance pertaining to the fund must be rewritten to allow the money to be used for the water plant construction costs. Currently the rainy day fund ordinance requires that there be a decline in the city's income tax revenues before the fund can be tapped.
Resident Matt Campbell asked council at its Aug. 13 meeting to consider spreading out the proposed water rate increases from 5 years to 10 years.
"It would be easier to swallow," said Campbell.
Resident Maria McGraw said she favors connecting to Columbus for water services instead of building a new Groveport water plant. She noted the proposed water rate increases for the new water plant would be spread out to about 1,200 customers on the Groveport water system.
"How is that a good risk? It's much more economically feasible to spread out (rate increases) over millions of customers (on the Columbus water system)," said McGraw.
Councilman Shawn Cleary, whose home is on the Columbus water system, voted in June to build the new water plant so Groveport can maintain control of its own rates and water system.
"No one wants higher rates. Council has to make a tough call," said Cleary. "In my case, my rates (with Columbus) have gone up 39 percent in 13 years. Columbus has forecast at least 3 percent annual rate increases for forever and ever."
Councilman Ed Dildine believes Columbus' 3 percent annual increases are responsible actions to maintain their water system. He believes Columbus is the cheaper water option overall, especially if connection charges could be paid for under a 20 year capital project bond rather than included in the rates.
Like Cleary, Councilwoman Jan Stoots wants Groveport to control its own water rates. She thinks there is no way to know what level of rate increases Columbus could impose in the future and that Groveport would have no voice in those potential increases. She believes the Columbus water option would also be more expensive because it could require new meters, connection charges and other adaptations.
Councilwoman Jean Ann Hilbert, who along with Dildine were the only council members to vote against the legislation to build the new water plant, asked Groveport Law Director Kevin Shannon about the possibility of council repealing the water plant ordinance.
Shannon replied that any member of council can bring forth legislation.
It is too late to mount a voter referendum against the approved water plant ordinance. Council approved the ordinance on June 25 and it became effective July 25. A referendum filing would have needed to be made between June 25 and July 25.
[ back ]