July 31, 2014

Elyria
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Elyria Council passes utility rate hikes

ELYRIA — It took reading and passing 45 different ordinances, but City Council voted for and passed a series of utility rate increases that will affect the fees that residents pay for 20 years to come.

The money from the increases will be used to fund $259 million in capital improvements to the city’s water and sewer systems, the first major overhaul either system has seen in decades. However, the city’s aging infrastructure and the Ohio EPA’s order that Elyria does something to curb the amount of sewage entering the Black River means the city must act now.

The incremental increases start this year when residents will pay $3.64 more per month for water, 93 cents more per month for sewer and $2.92 more per month for trash. That will push 2008’s average bill of $63.47 to a monthly average of $70.89.

However, by passing all the ordinances now, residents will also see 2028 numbers that are more than 400 percent of what they are paying today. Adjusted for inflation and to account for the work to be completed, the $12.99 average water bill of today will be $55.25 in 2028 and the $33.65 average sewer bill of today will be $79.52 by 2028.

Still, many praised city officials for developing a long-term solution to the problem of century-old water pipes and a sewer system built to treat a fraction of what it sees today.

“Thank you for having the foresight to do what should have been started 50 years ago,” longtime resident Norm Failing of Howard Street said.

Likewise, Councilman Mark Craig, I-4th Ward, spoke out in favor of the plan. Craig was absent from a previous meeting where the increase was discussed. However, Craig questioned why all 20 years of rate increases were being voted on in one night. He voted in favor of this year’s increase and against those for 2010 and beyond.

Councilman Gary Gibbs, R-3rd Ward, voted against every increase. He was never in favor of raising the rates, saying City Council had not acted in the best interest of residents by doing so in these tough economic times.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.