The proposed ordinance will have a first reading tonight, and a second reading at the Feb. 22 council meeting, said City Attorney Mark Yurick. The city’s charter prohibits council from approving rate increases as an emergency ordinance.
Stantec, the consulting firm that recently completed a water and sewer rate study for the city, found the sewer fund requires 5.50% rate increases in Fiscal Years 2022-2025 with the assumed American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grant and no sewer rate increases in Fiscal Years 2026-2031 to maintain reserves and meet revenue requirements.
Brunka said the sewer rate increase will be for one year and will be reviewed annually by city staff and council to see if more increases would be warranted. The additional revenues would go toward the replacement of the 33-year-old Glosser Road pump station/equalization basin with a new 10 million gallon a day pump station at Glosser Road, modifying the existing storage basin to accommodate additional storage and constructing a booster station at a designated location along force main to assist with flow during wet weather.
City officials said the design of these improvements has been completed and construction of the project will start bidding within the next couple of weeks. The new pump station will cost more than $9.72 million and the city received a $4 million grant from the state and a loan from the OEPA for that project.
“Without this grant, the recommended sewer rate increase would have been 8.75%,” Brunka said.
In addition, the city’s proposed 2021 -2025 Sewer Capital Improvement Program includes several key sewer main replacement projects that are being coordinated with road construction projects including New Street, a $230,000 project; Wright Avenue, a $165,000 project; the Reeders Run Exposed Sanitary Sewer, a $500,000 project; Cherry Street, a $375,000 project; air improvements to the aeration tanks at the wastewater treatment plant, $300,000 each; and the construction of the new Glosser Road pump station.
Brunka said these projects are necessary to address aging sewer infrastructure, and to ensure the wastewater treatment plant continues to meet regulatory requirements and requirements of the OEPA violation notice.
In 2003, the city constructed a 4-million-gallon sewer flow equalization basin to address sanitary sewer overflows at the Glosser Road pump station. Since November 2017, there have been four overflows due to heavy rain events. The city received an OEPA notice that the overflows violated the city’s permit and required improvements.