ST. CLAIRSVILLE - Belmont County water and sanitary sewer customers will be seeing an increase in their water and sewer rates in June.
During Wednesday's meeting of the Belmont County Commissioners, the board unanimously passed a motion approving rate increases for residential and commercial customers of the Belmont County Sanitary Sewer District. New water rates will go into effect June 1, with additional rate increases scheduled for June 1, 2013.
According to Mark Esposito, director of the Belmont County Sanitary Sewer District, increased operational costs have made the increases necessary.
Fuel, supplies, materials, chemicals and other expenses within the district have all increased.
"We've absorbed it for quite a while now," said Esposito.
The increases in monthly water and sewer rates are relatively small, with different increases established for the different districts. Water customers in the county already pay different rates, depending on the age of the particular systems from which they are serviced and the amount of debt from construction is still owed within each district.
County officials noted that most of the affected districts have not seen rate increases for many years, even decades in some cases.
"We don't want to get into a situation where we have to implement a huge increase all at once and play catch-up," said Esposito. "We want to stay ahead of the curve and be able to control our own debt."
Esposito noted that the sanitary sewer district is operating in the black, but if a major breakdown in the older part of the system should occur, for example, the district would have to take on additional debt to repair it. This coming increase will help the district pay for additional operating costs and stay ahead of the game when it comes to managing debts for construction.
"It's just the cost of doing business," said Commissioner Matt Coffland. "The cost of chemicals and everything else has gone up."
Water rates on water systems no. 2 and no. 3, the old system which currently have a minimum monthly cost for the first 3,000 gallons of $11.25, will be increased to $12.30 after June 1 of this year. This reflects an increase of 35 cents per 1,000 gallons each month. The monthly rate will go up again in June 2013 to $13.50.
Officials noted that the old system has no debt against it, therefore water customers pay the lowest rates in the county. This water rate has been the same since June 1, 1991.
For customers on water system no. 3 extension - covering Kinsman, the 1987 water line extension, Deep Run extension, 2000 water line extension and Mt. Victory Road, currently pay $20.75 per month as the minimum for the first 3,000 gallons. When the June increase is implemented, customers will pay $21.75 per month as their minimum. In June of 2013, the monthly rate on this system will go up to $22.35 per month.
The last rate increase for customers on this system was also 19 years ago, on June 1, 1991.
This current water rate increase does not affect customers who are served by villages and municipalities that purchase water from the county's system. Esposito said the district is currently working on bulk rate adjustments for municipal entities that purchase water from the county, and those new rates will be imposed in the near future.
County sewer rates are on a different scale. Esposito said customers on sanitary sewer district system no. 1 will not see an increase since they already were handed a rate increase within the past couple of years.
Customers on sanitary sewer district system no. 2 - the newer Fox Shannon and force main extension - currently pay a minimum of $19.50, as of November 2002. That rate will go up in June to $22.50 per month, reflecting an increase of $1 per 1,000 gallons each month.
Those on the old sewer system in district no. 2 currently pay $12 per month as their minimum for sewer services. This rate has been the same since 1989. As of June 1 of this year, the new monthly rate will be $13.80, reflecting an increase of 60 cents per 1,000 gallons each month.
Customers on the Bel-View Heights and Bel-Capri portion of sanitary sewer district no. 2 have been paying a flat rate since November 2002. That rate will be increased by 50 cents per month for 5/8- by - inch meter and 1-inch meter, and by $1 per month for 2-inch meter.
Sewer customers on sanitary sewer district no. 34 in the Pennwood area outside of St. Clairsville currently pay $17 per month as their minimum for up to 3,000 gallons. These customers have been paying the same rate since June 1991. The new monthly rate this June will be $19.50, reflecting an increase of about 50 cents per 1,000 gallons per month.
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