By Linda Dillman
Water and sewer rates are going up in Canal Winchester, but customers will have two years to work the increases into their budget.
“Our fund balances in the water and sewer funds combined with an increase in usage (revenues) and conservative spending have put us in the position to not raise rates currently,” said Canal Winchester Finance Director Amanda Jackson.
During the Sept. 17 Canal Winchester City Council meeting, a pair of ordinances setting user rates for the next four years was approved for customers outside the special water allocation district—Canal Pointe, which is served by Pickerington—and those receiving sewer services from the city.
Rates for 2019 and 2020 for domestic water and sprinkler rates per 1,000 gallons remain at $6.33 and then rise to $6.46 on Jan. 1, 2021 and then $6.59 the following year. The bulk water rate charge per 1,000 gallons remains at $8.90 for the next four years.
The sanitary sewer rate per 1,000 gallons is $5.88 for 2019 and 2020, $6 in 2021 and $6.12 on Jan. 1, 2022.
Currently, an average family of four uses 7,000 gallons per two-month cycle and is billed approximately $85. Jackson said Canal Winchester’s rates are comparable to other area communities. However, she emphasized different rate structures and minimum/service charges make it difficult to make direct comparisons.
According to the legislation, water and sanitary sewer user fees are adjusted at the beginning of the year, as necessary, to provide and maintain adequate operating and maintenance revenue and to meet debt obligations.
Jackson said there were increases every year since 1998; however, there were no sewer increases in 2015-2016.
“Before 2013 we had tiered rates—over under 4,000 gallons from 2006-2013 and then under 4,000 gallons, 4,000-20,000 gallons, and over 20,000 gallons from 2005 and earlier,” said Jackson. “In 2005 we started getting away from the tiered rates mainly because it did not promote water conservation and it allowed our base rate to have relatively minor increases—plus or minus two percent.”
Jackson expects no changes to the approved rate structure unless something catastrophic happens.