MEDINA – Monthly rates for customers of the Medina County Water System are expected to rise again.
Sanitary Engineer Amy Lyon-Galvin has asked county commissioners to authorize raising the cost of 1,000 gallons of water from the current $7.60 per month to $8.10 in January and $8.60 in January of 2021.
In addition, Lyon-Galvin has recommended an increase in the fixed debt fee added to monthly water bills from $2.80 per month to $4.90 in 2021 and $7 in 2022.
That means an average family that uses 5,000 gallons of water per month will see their bills rise from $40 to $44.60 in 2020 and $49 to 2021.
The new increases were presented to county commissioners July 23 and come on the recommendations of CT Consultants which was hired by the county to study and analyze the current rate structure in the water department.
The proposed increases come on the heels of a previous study which resulted in the county enacting a five-year plan to raise rates gradually from $6.60 per 1,000 gallons in 2015 to $7.20 in 2019 and also adding the new debt retirement fee of $2.80 per month.
Lyon-Galvin told county commissioners the new five-year rate plan does not call for any increases after 2021. However, more money from the planned increases in 2020 and 2021 is needed to properly manage and maintain the water system to comply with new Ohio Environmental Protection Agency requirements that call for replacing one percent of aging water mains each year.
“The EPA has told us to develop an asset management plan that provides for the replacement of aging infrastructure,” Lyon-Galvin said.
The rate increase is also intended to build a cash reserve to pay for maintenance projects without having to borrow money to pay for things like painting water towers.
The county’s current rates are already higher than rates charged by Akron, Wadsworth and Medina, but lower than rates charged by the Rural Lorain Water Authority and Cleveland water departments.
Lyon-Galvin estimated the cost of 5,000 gallons of water is now $40 for customers of the county system. That compares to $18.23 in Akron, $24.42 in Wadsworth, $29.65 in Medina, $52.76 for Rural Lorain customers and anywhere from $46 to $77 for various Cleveland Division of Water customers.
The debt retirement fee added to monthly consumption charges is significantly larger for commercial customers than it is for homeowners. Though just $4.90 for 97 percent of county water customers next year, the fee can range from $12.55 to $451 per month for larger users with water lines between one and six inches in diameter.
The rate schedule adopted in 2015 did not account for any increases in the bulk rate charged the county by the Avon Lake Water Treatment Plant, which are automatically passed on to Medina County water customers.
County officials said the last round of increases were put in place to erase a $4.4 million debt the county’s water system had incurred by spending more than it collected over the previous 10 years. Much of that budget deficit was the result of payments on debt the county incurred for extending water lines to more areas of the county.
The county water division has approximately 465 miles of water lines, 17 water storage tanks, 12 water pumping stations, and three water treatment plants that service approximately 15,275 customers. The majority of the water supplied by the County is obtained from the Avon Lake Water Treatment Plant via Rural Lorain County Water Authority