To keep up with inflation, repairs and other general costs, North Canton officials are mulling increasing water and sewer rates by roughly 10 percent in 2012. A final decision will come after the legislation has been read by council three times and a public hearing has been held.
Council met in a Committee of the Whole meeting Monday night. Agenda items about the increases are in the media portion of this article.
Water rates were last raised in 2009, according to Robert McNutt, senior project engineer for ARCADIS, a Canton-based consultant team. McNutt proposes raising the rate by 9.5 percent, which would add about $5.04 to the average water bill. He then proposed to increase the rate by 9 percent in 2013 and 8 percent in 2014.
The average water bill is $27.50, according to 2009 records, McNutt said.
"The purpose of this increase is to continue to provide the best quality water to our customers," McNutt said. "We have financial concerns right now and we need to replace equipment, comply with new regulations and replace many older, problematic water mains."
The money would also be used as a rainy day fund for there are problems, well studies need done, or if there is equipment failure, McNutt said.
"If we didn't do this increase, then we would have to play catch-up later," said Council President Jon Snyder. "Our system is one of the best in the state and our quality is next to none. We have to keep that up."
North Canton is one of the few cities that softens the water, rather than requiring the resident to do so at their cost, Snyder added.
North Canton does not have a sanitary sewer treatment facility, rather it all gets pumped to Canton where it is treated, said McNutt.
"We don't have an in-depth knowledge of our sanitary collection infrastructure," said McNutt. "We are experiencing back-ups in basements and we don't know why. We're also pumping excessive amounts of clean water for treatment and that's a big cost."
Raising the sewer rate by 10 percent would allow the city to assess the collection system, its condition and fix any deficiencies, McNutt said. It would also give the city an extra financial cushion for emergencies and capital projects.
Additionally, Canton is in the middle of updating its treatment facility, and North Canton has to pay 7 percent of that $70 million cost, said Snyder.
A 10 percent increase would raise the average bill from $25.41 to $27.82, McNutt said.
"The mayor is under mandate to raise rates whenever something happens, whether the county orders an increase in transmission costs or the city," Snyder said. "We're going to need the extra money because we are also required to have someone on our staff who is licensed in sanitary waters, so we will have to hire a contractor."
The person who currently does this is Tom Chufar, who is set to retire at the end of December, Mayor David Held said.