April 17, 2014

Elyria
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North Ridgeville considers study of sewer system

NORTH RIDGEVILLE — A study of local sewer rates could be the basis for determining future charges to residents to ensure there’s enough money to improve the city’s sewer system.

City Council’s Finance Committee is slated to discuss a proposed study by the Cleveland engineering firm URS when it meets Friday afternoon.

The city is considering contracting with URS for a study of its sanitary sewer system that’s projected to cost about $28,000, according to Safety-Service Director Jeffry Armbruster.

“This study will look at residential rate structures and the ability of those rates to support needed capital improvements,” said Chris Nielson, senior project engineer with UBS.

The study would analyze rates based on factors such as increased water usage stemming from the addition of several hundred new homes in the past several years to growth in local business, Armbruster said.

The city has installed retention basins in recent years to capture storm water. It continues to clean out ditches that carry heavy rains away, especially from flood-prone areas including the Northview Circle condo development. Residents there have met with and demanded city officials act to ease flooding problems.

The city is working with the condo group to take steps including inspections of each condominium to determine what steps can be taken by the city and condo owners to reduce future flooding.

City residents presently pay $4.63 per 100 cubic feet of water used following a series of rate increases over the past several years that included a pair of increases earlier this year.

The most recent was a 15 percent hike that bumped rates from $4.03 to the current level, according to Jim Whitlock, the city’s Utilities Department supervisor.

In recent years, the city has tried to maintain a cash reserve of roughly $1 million for repairs and emergencies.

Prior to a 25 percent rate hike imposed in 2010, sanitary sewer charges had not been raised since the mid-1990s. Increases of 4 percent and 18 percent went into effect in 2008.

Improvements the city figures to undertake during the next few years include repairs and upgrades to a number of its roughly 15 retention basins scattered throughout the city.

The city estimates it would take $146,000 to make repairs to three retention basins being considered. Money is not budgeted for that work, Armbruster said.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.