Lebanon residents to see 3 percent water, sewer hike

Lebanon water customers will see water, wastewater and storm rates increase by 3 percent starting July 1, the City Council decided last week.

Ron Whitlatch, city Engineering Services director, presented three resolutions, for 3 percent “inflationary index water rate, wastewater rate and storm rate increases” at the May 10 council meeting.

He told councilors that city ordinance requires the staff to use the Construction Cost Index published in Engineering News Record, an industry publication, to keep rates on pace with inflation.

He said that, although this year’s proposed increase was 3.9 percent, city staff determined 3 percent will “be adequate to offset inflationary costs.”

The water utility for a single family residence that uses seven units of water per month would go from $54.15 to $55.77 per month, Whitlatch said. The adjustment increases the average single-family residential sewer charge for seven units would go from $71.08 to $73.21 per month.

“Currently, all single-family residential properties, both developed and undeveloped, within the City limits are charged $3.41 per tax lot. The 3 percent inflationary index will increase that amount to $3.51,” Whitlatch said.

In a memo to the council, he discussed how previous rate increases are paying for the new water treatment plant.

“The revenue that has been collected from the rate increases is currently being used for design of the new water plant and intake facility,” Whitlatch said. “The remaining funds generated from rates are being held and will be used for a portion of the construction. Upon completion of the project, the revenue generated from increased rates will be used to fund debt service for the proposed construction bond that will be issued to fund a majority of the project.”

He added that some of that money is being used to pay for waterline replacement and upgrade projects throughout the system.

“Current estimates indicate that over the next 10 to 15 years there is $8 to $10 million dollars’ worth of line replacements that need to occur,” Whitlatch said. “The timing of the projects will be dependent on what the final cost for the new water treatment plant is and available yearly funding.”

Councilors approved the increases unanimously.

“I know that water is a sensitive subject for everybody in our community, and our rates are high,” said Mayor Paul Aziz.

He said the cost of living increase will help to avoid a situation in which the city does not have money to pay for a new treatment plant or for upkeep.

“As much as I hate approving (a rate increase), I think the cost of living (increase) is reasonable,” Aziz said.

“We would prefer not to bring it to you,” Whitlatch said.

In other business, the council:

n Proclaimed May 15 through May 21, 2017 as National Police Week, and May 15 Peace Officers Memorial Day.

n Proclaimed May 24 through June 4, 2017 the Annual Strawberry Festival – “A time for fun and frolic.”