SOUTH BLOOMFIELD — South Bloomfield village council heard complaints about an increase in sewer payments and passed its 2013 village appropriations at its regular meeting on Tuesday.
About 50 people in attendance Tuesday voiced their complaints about their May water and sewer bill, which was higher due to a mistake admitted by Mayor Rick Wilson.
The billing for the month of May was an overcharge due to a change that was not supposed to happen until the June billing cycle, Wilson said.
Iris Darst, chief fiscal officer, said the mistake amounted to about $20 in overcharge depending on the water usage for the residence.
“It unfortunately was a human mistake,” Wilson said. “One person had mentioned that the ordinance had passed through council on April 27, and I agreed without doing my research. Actually the ordinance didn’t pass until the sixth of May. It should have not went into effect until the sixth of June.”
The council voted unanimously to credit accounts for the mistake on their next bill.
Villagers also expressed displeasure in the amount of the bill in total and said they were not well enough informed by the village about the need for the increase.
The bill for sewer is going to rise from $36 to $47 per month, and residents will see a rise in water costs from $7.50 per 1,000 gallons to $11.50 per 1,000 gallons for the first 8,000 gallons of water used.
“The cheapest water bill possible went from $43.50 to $58.50,” Darst said following the meeting. “But the average bill for a residence went up about $20, depending on how much water that they use.”
Council member Jill Roese agreed with the members of the audience that the village could have informed them better.
“I agree with you people,” she said. “You were not informed. Granted you can come to council meetings, but we should have sent you out a letter informing you about this.”
Wilson disagreed with Roese and said he tried to explain to people in a newsletter that an increase was coming.
“Whenever I first took office, I was preaching that something had to be done, to contact your councilperson and let them know how you feel,” Wilson said. “We’ve been trying to do this for years, and we have no option.”
Jerred Phillips, who spoke during the meeting, said his base bill has increased from around $50 when he moved in back in 2007 to upwards of $120.
“When the one council person said that it went up by no more than 50 cents in the last couple years, I had to call her out on it,” he said. “When we moved in it was $52 for water, sewer and trash. A year or two ago, it rose to around $70, and now it’s gone up to $120.”
Wilson explained that the village has no control over water costs, and that the Ohio Bureau of Public Affairs dictates what the charge is for water. The village only has control over sewer costs on the bill.
Council moved forward with the increase, and Wilson said this should be the last of the price adjustment for the next several years.
“As all closest projections that we’ve made over the last four or five years, this should be it,” Wilson said. “This should cover a good operating cost and to cover the costs to replace the pumps. You might expect a three-percent increase every year due to gas and the cost of living moving forward.”
A special meeting of the South Bloomfield village council is set for 7 p.m. June 26 to discuss payment of the water/sewer debt.
The finalized village appropriations were approved at $1,622,279.33. The bulk of that is the general fund at $625,018.14, followed by the sewer debt at $368,000, water operating at $223,970.04 and sewer operating at $203,715.31.
The Pickaway County Budget Commission must now review and approve the budget before it is official.