Hamilton sewer rates climbing in August

SEWER RATE INCREASE

Hamilton’s sewer rates are based on two things: the amount of water a property uses, plus a customer charge of $3.08 per month.

That rate climbs to:

  • $4.08 — Aug. 1
  • $5.08 — July 1, 2017

  • $6.08 — July 1, 2018
  • $7.08 — July 1, 2019
  • $8.08 — July 1, 2020

Source: City of Hamilton

SEWER RATE INCREASE

Hamilton’s sewer rates are based on two things: the amount of water a property uses, plus a customer charge of $3.08 per month.

That rate climbs to:

  • $4.08 — Aug. 1
  • $5.08 — July 1, 2017
  • $6.08 — July 1, 2018
  • $7.08 — July 1, 2019
  • $8.08 — July 1, 2020

Source: City of Hamilton

Sewer bills for Hamilton residents and businesses will be more each month starting Aug. 1.

The $1 per month sewer rate increase is the first part “of a multi-year wastewater rate plan designed to improve the city sanitary sewer system,” said City Director of Public Utilities Kevin Maynard.

Typical customers will see rates climb between 1.8 percent and 2 percent each year, according to the city.

Hamilton’s sewer rates are based on two things: the amount of water a property uses, plus a customer charge of $3.08 per month. That rate climbs to $4.08 Aug. 1, followed by $5.08 July 1, 2017; $6.08 July 1, 2018; $7.08 July 1, 2019; and $8.08 July 1, 2020.

Sanitary sewers handle waste from toilets and sinks from homes and businesses. They differ from storm sewers, which convey rain water to rivers and streams, or sometimes treatment plants.

Unlike many cities of Hamilton's age, Hamilton's sanitary- and storm-sewer systems are separate. But in some cases, storm water gets into the sanitary system and overwhelms it — as city officials say was the case June 2, when a heavy rain swamped basements and streets on the city's West Side.

In fact, city officials cited the costs of solving that flooding by disconnecting improper connections from homes’ gutters and downspouts to sanitary sewers as part of the reason for the increases.

The city is working to address the problems that led to that flooding, and will hire a private engineering firm to determine possible solutions for the street flooding.

There is good news for “snowbirds” who live in warmer climates during cold months. They will no longer will have to pay sewer charges based on water they aren’t using while their homes are empty.

Nathan Perry, the city’s utilities business manager, said under the city’s old rate structure, residential property property owners paid the customer charge plus an additional charge based on a minimum use of 200 cubic feet of water use, for a total of $10.18. That same customer who is out of town all month now will pay only the $4.08 monthly customer charge.

The most recent increase had been in 2012, according to Perry.

The average Hamilton customer uses 600 cubic feet — or 4,488 gallons — and now pays $33.11 per month in total charges. Here’s how rates will change:

  • Aug. 1, a customer using that amount will pay $34.11, a 3 percent increase.
  • July 1, 2017, that customer will pay $35.11, a 2.9 percent hike.
  • July 1, 2018, that will climb to $36.11, a 2.8 percent increase.
  • July 1, 2019, it will rise to $37.11, a 2.8 percent gain.
  • July 1, 2020, it will increase to $38.11, a 2.7 percent hike.

A typical commercial customer will see monthly rates climb about $2.5o per month each of the five years (hikes of 1.8 percent to 2 percent). A large industrial customer who now pays about $10,000 per month, will see rates increase about $50 a month each year, or about 0.5 percent.

The city’s sewer rates are on the high side compared with others charged in the region, according to a survey of area jurisdictions conducted by the city of Oakwood’s Finance Department.

The survey found that a Hamilton customer who uses 1,000 cubic feet of water per month is billed $159.39 per quarter in sewer rates. That ranked Hamilton’s rates 14th highest among 63 jurisdictions. The survey found rates ranging from a low of $72.92 (Dayton) to a high of $240.81 (Loveland). The mean was $133.38.

By comparison, Butler County’s rates were $84.14; Fairfield’s were $107.33; Oxford’s were $122.49; Middletown’s were $134.49; and Mason’s were $165.58.

With the closure of two paper mills earlier this decade, city officials said Hamilton lost $1.8 million in yearly revenues to its sewer system. The city said it is still accounting for those losses, even though the mills had significantly reduced their water usage from highs in about 2007 to zero in 2013.

Hamilton in the next couple of months plans to refinance loans it borrowed in 2005. The loans will be extended by three years, but also will have a lower interest rate that will save about $800,000 of interest payments over the life of the loan. To do the refinancing, the city had to have a rate plan and capital-improvements plan in place, officials said.

The rate changes include a plus for property owners: The added revenues will let city utilities spend $100,000 more per year to repair or replace sanitary-sewer lines within public rights-of-way up to the property’s curb. Property owners until now have been responsible for all sanitary-sewer laterals, even in the rights-of-way, which can cost an owner $10,000 to $20,000 when they fail. Owners still will have to pay for repairs between the curbs and their buildings.