The Warren County commissioners on Tuesday approved a plan to raise water and sewer rates to fund $62 million in system improvements, while cutting by nearly $500,000 tap-in fees for the developer of a former ammunition plant as a riverside residential complex.
First, the commissioners voted to raise water and sewer rates and water fees to fund $62 million in improvements that could result in producing and selling water to Montgomery County, as well as existing and future customers in fast-growing Warren County.
“We’ve got a god-given asset,” Commissioner Dave Young said Tuesday. “We can actually sell this on the open market.”
To fund the expansion and upgrades, customers will pay a 1.5 percent rate hike and $5 more in fees on bi-monthly bills.
The decision was delayed earlier this month after Shannon Jones, a veteran state lawmaker, began her term as a commissioner.
The board unanimously approved the increases to fund the expansion and upgrade of its water system to bring softened water to all customers without contracting with other providers.
The added capacity also positions the county to profit from water sales in Montgomery County and to Western Water, another provider in Warren County.
“This would potentially open up avenues in the future,” Chris Brausch, the county sanitation engineer, said. “We continue to reach out.”
The county’s water and sewer department serves the villages of Corwin, Harveysburg, and Maineville, as well as portions of Clear Creek, Deerfield, Franklin, Hamilton, Turtle Creek, Union, and Wayne townships.
The county also purchases water from Springboro, Waynesville and Cincinnati.
The upgrades are expected to enable the county to stop buying water, as well as provide all customers softened water without need for home softening systems.
For the next three years, bills will charge a $7.50 bimonthly fee, as well as 3 percent rate increases in the next three years, but adjustments that eliminate the sewer fee and leave sewer rates unchanged, reduce the overall impact on costs to customers.
For the average customer, the difference will be “30 bucks a year,” Young said.
Also, existing and future customers would no longer need to use hard water or install systems to soften their supply from the county.
Also Tuesday, the commissioners granted a $491,000 reduction in tap-in fees for the developer of the former Peters Cartridge Factory.
After a discussion, the commissioners unanimously approved a resolution supporting the 50 percent cut in rates sought by Kenneth Schon, developer of the property.
The property, along the Little Miami River, was the subject of of an environmental clean-up through the US EPA Super Fund.
Bloomfield-Schon will still pay $491,000 for tap-in fees, if it goes forward with the development.
“We don’t cut deals. We’re not making deals to developers to develop a normal piece of property,” Commissioner Dave Young said.
Young said the county made an exception because the development would eliminate a public nuisance and potentially draw young urban professionals to the development along the multi-use trail along the Little Miami River.
“It’s an eyesore,” Young said. “It could be fantastically cool once they do it.”
Schon sought the reduction last year in hopes of helping to make the projected $25 million residential development project a reality after 15 years of planning.
On Tuesday, Schon said the reduction would help, but would leave him with a funding gap.
“We’ll roll up our sleeves and figure out how to do it,” he said. “It will just take us longer.”
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