CIRCLEVILLE — A proposed water and sewer rate hike for 2021 has moved one step closer to coming to fruition as members of the Circleville City Council Service Committee voted to allow council to consider legislation approving the increases.

Under the current proposal, the city’s water and sewer rates would see a 35 percent increase in water fees for 2021, and then an additional three percent increase in 2022 through 2025. For sewer, the increases would be 30 percent for 2021; 27.5 percent for 2022; 25 percent for 2023; and three percent for 2024 and 2025.

As an example, a four usage of water, which is on the high end of average for the city is $17.66 per month and the average sewer bill is $25.62 per month. Under the plan proposed by Burgess & Niple, those numbers would increase by $5.96 to $23.62 for next year and sewer would increase by $7.72 to $32.34.

After all the increases, a customer currently paying $43.28 now for water and sewer combined would pay $77.56 in 2025.

Terry Frazier, service director, explained the reasons for the increase at the request of the committee and said they were “substantial” increases. Currently the city is in the design phase of a complete renovation of parts of the wastewater plant.

“The plant is designed for four million gallons a day and in events of heavy rains we receive 10 to 12 million gallons a day,” Frazier said. “That’s three times the rated capacity and that causes treatment problems.”

Frazier said the project to improve the wastewater plant will cost about $28 million.

“The design and engineering will be finished in the coming months and the design will go out to bid in July 2021,” Frazier explained. “Once the bids are out we can award in August 2021 and construction will take about 26 months.”

Frazier said the rate increases will help cover the cost of the plant; something the city will pay off over 25 years.

“That’s the rationale for the size of the rate increase,” he said.

Council member Jeff Hallinin shared his thoughts on the increase during the committee meeting.

“The minimum went from $10 to $12 and it just depends on the usage and variance of it,” Hallinin stated. “It sounds like a few bucks a month and it sounds necessary since we’ve not done it in so long,”

Council member Sheri Theis asked Frazier about assistance to lower income households. Frazier said that decision should come down the line since it’s not part of the rate study.

“That’s a question I could help you with and answer later,” Frazier commented.

The rate increases wouldn’t take affect until 2021 and will be discussed again at the next City Council meeting on Sept. 15.

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