Commissioners raise sewer rates

Sewer rates for the county are slated to increase in July to $62 a month, Washington County Commissioners said during their meeting Thursday.

During last week’s meeting, problems with the sewer rates were discussed. The projected revenue of $855,000 fell way short of projected expenses of $925,000. Commissioners also discussed that rates were last raised in July 2009, nearly five years ago.

Commissioner David White said the budgeted amount of money for the cost of operating the sewer for 2014 totals about $941,000.

“(That) is a deficit of nearly $100,000,” he said. “Clearly an adjustment’s needed.”

White said during his review of the sewer finances, the carryover balance was called into question, where the amount has been diminished over the last few years.

“My biggest dilemma was whether to include replenishment of that carryover into the calculations for how much to raise the rate,” White said. “My feeling is since it has been several years, in order to make that raise not too large this year, that we ought to only address what is absolutely necessary in closing the gap between the revenue and the expenditure.”

The carryover balance has shrunk since 2012: The balance in the account was about $319,343 in 2012, which shrank in 2013 to $236,172, which has gone down again to about $212,798.

Commissioner Tim Irvine said while reviewing the sewer rates, he looked at expenditures in 2013 and rate raises that have been made in the city and Belpre.

“Actual expenditures in 2013 totaled $881,773,” he said. “That did not include the full raise on the sewer rates in Belpre, it was just a partial year of that. We also had an increase in rates for the city of Marietta beginning this year; it didn’t include that.”

He said after calculations, he “would lean toward a $62 (rate).”

President Ron Feathers said he came up with a hybrid between the two processes, where appropriations for this year and actual dollars spent last year were used.

“These (calculations) were all done independently,” Feathers added.

Commissioners agreed to take three months to send notices out, which will mean April, May and June bills will include them.The raise to $62 will take effect in July. Commissioners said it is their intention to revisit this annually on a March and April basis.