Middletown sewer and trash rate increases considered

This is the aeration system where biological activity takes place at the Middletown Wastewater Treatment Plant on Oxford State Road, as it looked in early October. Middletown City Manager Doug Adkins is recommending a 15 percent sewer-rate increase in 2017, along with a 75-cent-per-month trash pickup increase next year. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
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This is the aeration system where biological activity takes place at the Middletown Wastewater Treatment Plant on Oxford State Road, as it looked in early October. Middletown City Manager Doug Adkins is recommending a 15 percent sewer-rate increase in 2017, along with a 75-cent-per-month trash pickup increase next year. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Sewer rates could rise by 15 percent, with trash-collection fees climbing another 5.3 percent, under two items of legislation that were to be considered Tuesday evening.

Currently, Middletown’s sewer rates of $134.49 per quarter are 30th highest among 63 that were surveyed this year by the city of Oakwood’s Finance Department. The suggested jump to about $154.66 would raise Middletown to 16th highest among the 63 sewer utilities.

The higher sewer rates would take effect Jan. 1, and are prompted by “the need for major capital improvements to the system,” Public Works and Utilities Director Scott Tadych wrote in a report about the proposed increase.

That’s because Middletown, like some other older cities, has a sewer system that simultaneously handles rain water and sewage from homes and businesses, and environmental regulators are pressing the city to address overflows of the sewage system that happen during heavy rains.

“The current estimated cost to address combined sewer overflows is $120 million over the next 30 years,” Tadych wrote. “During this same time frame, major rehabilitation will be necessary for our sewer collection system and wastewater treatment plant.”

Nearly half the city’s sewer system is at least 50 years old and “will require extensive rehabilitation going forward,” with an estimate $142 million needed to repair the sewers themselves over the next 30-40 years, plus another $68 million needed in improvements at the sewage-treatment plant, he wrote.

“All told the city is looking at $330 million in future improvements to the system,” Tadych wrote.

Both the sewer and trash rate increases will receive consideration at the first of two required meetings Tuesday, with the legislation expected to receive a vote on Nov. 15.

Trash rates, which now are $14.25 per month, would climb to $15 monthly for residences and businesses, under the other piece of legislation. Those rates go toward paying trash collection and recycling, monitoring and maintaining the city’s closed landfill and contracted litter collection.

“Ongoing monitoring at the closed landfill in 2016 has revealed slightly higher than acceptable methane gas readings per Ohio (Environmental Protection Agency) standards,” Tadych wrote. “This will require increased monitoring along with mitigation efforts through the end of 2016 and into 2017,” at an estimated cost of $150,000 to monitor and alleviate the issue.

More trash-rate increases likely are on the way, Tadych noted: with hikes of 25 cents per month possibly needed in 2018 and 2020. Without the fee increase, he added, “the fund will run into a deficit in 2017.”

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