Bellaire hears water rate increase ordinance
Final vote will be held Thursday at special meeting
BELLAIRE — Village Council has heard the first two readings of an ordinance to increase water rates in increments during the next five years.
The first reading of the ordinance was held April 15 and the second during a special meeting on April 19.
A third and final reading of the ordinance is set for 5 p.m. Thursday during a special meeting in council chambers. After that reading, the ordinance will be voted upon. The agenda for the special meeting also calls for council to vote on the proposed engineering contract related to the Water Treatment Plant project.
The proposed rate increase schedule will be an additional $3.02, effective May 1; another $2.29 in January 2022; $2.33 in January 2023; $2.47 in January 2024; and another $1.20 in January 2025.
The current base water rate for a resident is $25.09 per month for 2,000 gallons of water. Residents’ water bills are included on a utility bill that also lists fees for garbage, city sewer and other fees.
Village officials have said the increase is necessary to secure a loan and grant needed for an air stripper project at the treatment plant.
In addition to funding for the air strippers, which will clean impurities from water inside one of the village’s wells currently not being used, the loan will also pay for new water meters. New meters are needed across the village and are expected to help address the village’s water loss issues.
The village is seeking grant and loan funding from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency for the project, estimated at $3 million. It would be covered by a $1.5 million grant and a $1.5 million loan from the Ohio EPA.
Air strippers blow air into the water, which would eliminate the chemical tetrachloroethylene. If the village could get the air strippers, it could connect to the new intake, which would increase the plant’s capacity.
This would allow the plant to sell water to other places. The village currently cannot use the new valve because of the chemical tetrachloroethylene. This is the same chemical that state and local health officials determined in 2019 was coming from a former dry cleaning business in the community.
That valve is not being used by the village and there is no pipe connected to the plant, which means no water from it is entering the plant. However, that water still is tested by the Ohio EPA.
Councilman Mike Doyle said previously that the village has not raised its rates since 2008. Though he is not in favor of a rate increase, he says it is necessary in order to get the needed loan and grants. The rate increase schedule was recommended by Ohio Rural Community Assistance Program, the consulting firm on the project.