By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport City Council is considering a water rate increase in 2019 for customers on the city of Groveport’s water system.
“With expenses continuing to increase due to inflation, a small increase of 3 percent is being recommended for 2019 in order to stay at least current with our balance in the Water Fund,” wrote Groveport City Administrator Marsha Hall in a report to council.
If council approves the proposed Groveport water rate increase, it would become effective with the first billing cycle in 2019 and first be reflected in customers’ April 1, 2019 billing, according to Hall.
When asked what the average dollar amount increase would be for the average water bill, Hall said, “A 3 percent increase would be $8.34, bringing the new average bill for the past 12 months to $286.32.”
There was no Groveport water rate increase in 2018 and the last water rate increase for those on city of Groveport water was a 3 percent hike in 2017.
Part of the city is on the Groveport water system and another part of town is on the Columbus water system. According to Hall, there are 1,213 Groveport water system accounts and 921 Columbus water system accounts in Groveport.
Hall said the City of Columbus Sewer and Water Advisory Board is recommending Columbus City Council enact a 2 percent water rate increase in 2019 for Columbus water customers. Additionally, the city of Columbus provides sanitary sewer service to Groveport and Hall said, “Columbus is currently going through the process of approving a 3 percent sewer usage rate increase for 2019. This will be passed on to all of our customers.”
In her report to council, Hall noted, “While we are currently holding our own for our projected balance (contingency) in the Water Fund for operations of our water plant, our projected expenses for 2019 are also less than 2018 expenses, so any unforeseen large expense would result in a much lower balance going into 2020.”
Since water expenses for 2019 are projected to be less than in 2018, then why is a water rate increase necessary?
“The projected expenses are lower in 2019 due to a lower estimate of contract services,” said Hall. “As warranties at the new plant drop off, we will have additional maintenance contracts in future years. Ohio Senate Bill 2 now requires that all water systems develop an Asset Management Plan that includes five-year funding to adequately fund our water assets. We will need to have available revenue to cover increased contract services and to cover any emergencies that may arise in the operations of the water system.”
The $2.5 million Groveport water plant opened in 2015. Hall said the water debt is a 30 year debt service.