RATES … Council member Brandon Tijerina discusses proposed changes to the water and sewer rate changes which were approved by council. (PHOTO BY JACOB KESSLER, STAFF)
By: Jacob Kessler
The Wauseon City Council held their meeting on Monday, July 5th. The meeting began at 5:00 p.m. with the Pledge of Allegiance followed by a moment of silence.
Council first moved to approve the minutes for the previous meeting held on June 20th before then moving to hear Department Head reports.
Police Chief Chittenden spoke first and stated that there was nothing really too new to report from the previous committee meeting.
Director of Public Service Torbet spoke next and advised council that Brunell Street is progressing ahead of schedule. The water and sewer lines are in, and service connections should start getting done next week, explained Mr. Torbet.
First Energy and Century Link need to move some poles around which will take some time. At this time, the hope is to have work completed by August 1st.
The pool was discussed next with it being stated that the Snack Shack was given a clean bill of health. In the month of June, 3125 passes were used along with 6650 paid admissions.
During that month, almost 10,000 people used the pool. Director of Finance Jamie Giguere then spoke and reiterated how well the pool did in June. She also stated that income tax revenue had increased by 13% over the previous year.
Committee reports followed next with Council Representative Brandon Tijerina discussing the Utility Meeting report. Mr. Tijerina stated that a meeting was held last week.
Updated projections for water and sewer were given during that meeting. If the current prices and spending are maintained, the budget would fall beneath that which is needed to operate.
The committee agreed to increase water rates by 5% on September 1st of this year, another 5% on January 1st, 2023, and another 4% on January 1st, 2024. The debt charge will be removed from the sewer charges but will be met with an 11% increase in September.
This removal of the debt charge and increase of 11% will make it so that there is no change that will be seen by customers. Sewer rates will then increase by 9% on January 1st, 2023, and 7.5% on January 1st, 2024.
It was stated that several areas around town have an underground infrastructure that is over 100 years old. These need to be addressed now so that the city is not fighting an uphill battle later.
“If we don’t make these increases, we will be out of money. I don’t want to see a 50% increase in one year. I would rather do increases incrementally,” said Mr. Torbet.
A motion was made to accept the report and approve the multi-year rate increases. The motion passed with a vote of 4 to 1 in the affirmative.
In new business, a motion was made and approved to accept Brody Weber onto the Planning Commission. Council member Chane Chamberlin then stated that there will be multiple readings for the rate increases and that if anyone has any questions they could come up and ask them or call in and ask them.
Keith Torbet stated that the cost of supplies for the water infrastructure have increased by over 35% which is one factor leading to the increase.
Council member Steve Schneider then thanked the police and firefighters for s job well done at the fireworks. Council then moved to pay the bills before then moving to adjourn at 5:20 p.m.
Following the meeting, Keith Torbet had the following to say. “For years council tried not to increase the water. We had a significant water reserve fund for water and reclamation.”
“Under Ohio law what comes in for water has to be used for water. Those funds have to stay solvent. We found a program, Water Worth, that lets us input the water infrastructure in the city, the age and service life.”
“It will then estimate at what year they may fail and how much it will cost to replace it. It can be adjusted yearly, and we are hoping that, after the increases, it can all be leveled off for minimal increases based on inflation.”
“Inflation can change and just because we passed these now does not mean that they have to stay that way.”
Jacob can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org