A large water main brake Wednesday April 13 pushes water through South Blvd. in Kettering between Rushland and Ansel Drives. South Blvd. is closed between Rushland and Ansel. JIM NOELKER/STAFF JIM NOELKER

Kettering is site of county’s first public presentation on water rate hike

About a quarter of all customers receiving water and sewer service from Montgomery County are in Kettering where on Tuesday officials will hold the first of 10 public presentations to discuss a 14-percent rate increase planned for 2018.

About 81,000 customers in all will see their combined water and sewer rate also go up an additional 5.6 percent each year from 2019-2022, according to a five-year plan announced by the county last week.

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The increase is needed because of deteriorating infrastructure resulting in higher costs for maintenance and needed new construction with little foreseeable state or federal funding, officials said.

“It may appear to be a relatively large increase,” County Administrator Joe Tuss said. “But when you look at where we’ve been from an historic standpoint, it’s about catching up and generating the revenue we need to invest.”

The average Montgomery County residential customer, now paying about $170, will see quarterly bills rise about $24 in 2018.

Tuesday’s presentation will be during a regular Kettering City Council meeting at 7:30 p.m. at the Kettering Government Center, 3600 Shroyer Rd. Comments on the plan will need to be made following the regular meeting.

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While Montgomery County purchases water pumped by the city of Dayton, the county maintains a distribution system of 1,400 miles of water mains as well as 1,200 miles of sewer line and two wastewater plants.

The system provides drinking water and fire prevention for about 250,000 residents. In addition to Kettering, a large segment of customers are in Centerville, Harrison Twp., Miami Twp., Riverside, Trotwood and Washington Twp.

“Like many systems across the country, we have an aging system, and this rate increase is necessary to help us replace and maintain our water and sewer system,” said Tuss. “We had low or no rate increases for eight years, and we just can’t put this off any longer.”

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Montgomery County rate increases have averaged about 2.5 percent since 2007, which is below the state average of 4 percent, according to Ohio Environmental Protection Agency data.

Officials estimate about $750 million will need to be spent over the next 20 years to maintain and replace aging portions of the system.

A larger portion of a customer’s bill will be the fixed charge, while consumption charges move from 80 to 60 percent. The increased fixed charge will provide more stable, long-term financing needed to make upgrades and maintain the $3.1 billion system, said Pat Turnbull, the county’s Environmental Services director.

Turnbull said the county is routinely experiencing 300 or more water main breaks a year — spending about $2 million annually to fix — on the system primarily installed 60-70 years ago.