By Jordan Cohen
A two-judge Court of Jurisdiction approved rate increases for the next two years for the Mahoning Valley Sanitary District, which supplies water to Youngstown, Niles and McDonald.
Residents of the three communities will see their rates increase by 9.9 percent beginning July 1 and 11.8 percent in July 2012.
The MVSD froze its rates this fiscal year, which ends June 30.
None of the three communities voiced any objection to the increase, which was approved by Judges Peter Kontos of Trumbull County and James C. Evans of Mahoning County. All MVSD rate requests must be reviewed by the panel.
“They came to us two years ago with their plan, and we were in agreement,” said John Casciano, Youngstown water commissioner, who attended the Friday hearing. “After looking at what needs to be done, we deemed their capital improvements necessary.”
MVSD Chief Engineer Tom Holloway said earlier that the increase amounts to 15 cents per 1,000 gallons this July and 20 cents per 1,000 gallons the following year.
Holloway said the average family of four uses about 5,000 gallons per month meaning the increase would be 75 cents monthly beginning July 1 and $1 per month in July 2012.
Atty. Charles Richards, MVSD legal counsel, said the rate increase will enable the district to qualify for $23 million in state loans to pay for a number of capital improvements. Among the projects and their costs: Two new settling basins and a re-carbonation system to reduce buildup of calcium carbonate, $16.7 million, and new chemical building for chemical storage and feed equipment used in water treatment, $8.2 million.
Richards said the loan providers, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Ohio Water Development Authority, may not require MVSD to repay $2 million of the loans “as long as we stay on a solid financial footing.”
The last time the Court of Jurisdiction approved an MVSD rate increase was in 2007 at rates that were slightly higher than the new increases, Holloway said.