Middletown raising sewer rates in advance of mandatory improvements

Middletown residents will pay more for sewer services in 2018.

City Council is expected to approve a 15 percent increase in sewer rates at its Nov. 21 meeting. This rate increase will cost a typical residential user an additional $4.41 per month based on 600 cubic feet of usage for sewage.

The rate hike marks the second increase in as many years as the city prepares for major improvements mandated by the federal government.

Sewer rates are reviewed annually by council as needed and considers operational, maintenance, and capital improvement needs of the sewer system, according to Scott Tadych, public works and utilities director. The rates were last discussed in 2016 with a rate increase of 15 percent effective Jan. 1, 2017.

MORE: Middletown 2018 budget: Staff raises, sewer rate hike

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City officials said part of the reason for the steep increases are due to the condition of Middletown’s sewer system that handle both raw sewage and storm water.

If council opts to delay or not raise the rates for 2018, it could mean much higher annual rates for residents in the future for the federally mandated improvements, according to Tadych.

The city is negotiating with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to address combined sewer overflows. Because of that, sewer rates are being adjusted in anticipation of implementing a plan that will include combined sewer overflow control projects along with major rehabilitation of the sewer system and wastewater treatment plant. The Middletown Wastewater Treatment Plant on Oxford State Road needs close to $70 million for improvements, according to officials.

Once that plan is completed, it will set the city’s costs and responsibilities concerning the sewer system. The total cost is expected to be $260 million over the next 25 years, Tadych said.

MORE: Will Middletown residents also pay more for trash service in 2018?

Middletown’s sewer rates rank 46th out of 63 communities surveyed in 2017 in southwest Ohio, according to Tadych. The proposed 15 percent increase would increase Middletown’s position to 56th out of 63 communities surveyed in 2017.

According to the 2017 survey, Middletown residents currently pay an average of $154.68 for sewer service per quarter. That is nearly $20 more than the mean average of $137.66 of the 63 communities surveyed.

Compared to 2016, the 2017 survey reflected an overall collective rate increase of 3.2 percent for sewer and 4 percent for water.

Middletown’s water rates are currently 24th out of 66 communities surveyed for lowest water rates and will remain the same for 2018.

According to the 2017 survey, Middletown residents pay an average of $104.70 per quarter for water service. That is about $18 less than the mean average for the region.

The ranking of average rates are based on 22,000 gallons or 3,000 cubic feet of water used in a three-month period and uses rates that were in effect as of March 1, 2017.

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