YOUNGSTOWN Council OKs increase in sewer rates
A $1.50-per-month increase in garbage fees has been sent to committee.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Sewer rates are going up, and city council is also considering raising garbage-collection and water rates.
City council unanimously approved new sewer rates Wednesday that increase charges by 33 percent over the next 31/2 years. The average household sewer bill is $34.18 a month.
The increases, which begin Oct. 1, are needed primarily because of debt payments on the $90 million secondary sewage treatment plant built in the 1980s. Also, repair and maintenance to the plant and collection system are required over the next five years, city officials say.
The increase is in addition to a raise in sewer rates approved earlier this year. Council approved a 15 percent increase in sewer rates through 2006 as the result of a settlement in a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lawsuit against the city. The settlement requires the city to make sewer system improvements to remedy water pollution problems.
At the request of Councilman Ron Sefcik, D-4th, council sent to its public utilities committee an ordinance that would have authorized the board of control to charge up to $8 per month per household effective Oct. 1 for curbside garbage pickup. The current charge of $6.50 per month per household isn't sufficient to cover collection costs, David Bozanich, finance director, has said.
"There's enough for the people on this November ballot to decide on -- the sales tax, the income tax increase -- and we decided to wait until after that to decide what we want to do" with regard to garbage collection rates, Sefcik said, explaining why the ordinance went to the committee.
Sewer and garbage rate increases may not be the last, either.
The city also is likely to increase water rates soon. The move would be in response to increases proposed by the Mahoning Valley Sanitary District, which supplies water to the city, and in response to the city's need to upgrade and extend its water distribution system. Water rates can be increased by Mayor George McKelvey and Water Commissioner Charles Sammarone.
On Wednesday, council authorized the board of control to hire MS Consultants to review problem areas in the water distribution system and outline possible system expansion.
Council also authorized Sammarone to apply for federal EPA grants for vulnerability assessments, emergency operations plans and security enhancement design.