Steubenville Residents Express Concerns About Utility Rate Increase | News, Sports, JobsOctober 18, 2018
STEUBENVILLE — City Council and administrators were questioned Wednesday about why nothing has been done in the past to fund and fix the city’s ailing water and sewer systems, and city officials continued to fight among themselves during the presentation.
Council members said they are concerned some residents will have difficulty paying the bill when the base rate increases 24 percent. The city held the second of two public meetings on the topic at Eastern Gateway Community College. The first had been held Monday at Steubenville High School.
About 100 people attended the meeting. One of them was city resident Nancy Null, who said she fits into the category of people who won’t be able to pay.
“I make less than $15,000 a year,” she said. “This increase is devastating to me.”
Null said there are programs to help low-income residents pay their heating bills, but she noted there are no programs to help with water and sewer bills.
“I don’t see how raising rates in one lump sum is helping,” Null said. “(Low-income residents) are going under.”
First Ward Councilman Gerald DiLoreto said there are two reasons why the increases weren’t implemented years ago.
“All politicians are cowards,” he said when giving the first reason.
The other reason he gave is the city gave surplus money to employees in the form of raises.
City resident David Growden asked why the projects weren’t planned earlier.
“Why is this now such a concern?” he asked.
He also asked if the city is making plans for improvements 10 to 20 years down the line.
Council already introduced legislation to increase water, sewer and sanitation rates to fund state-mandated improvements to the water and sewer system and has proposed increasing water and sewer rates by 15 percent.
The water infrastructure part of the bill will be raised by $3.10, and a sewer infrastructure in the amount of $7 will be implemented. The overall increase to residents will be 24 percent.
Residents pay a utility bill for water, sewer and garbage collection. The base bill, for a resident using 2,000 or fewer gallons of water, is $68.82. The rate will increase the base to $85.59.
The rates will have an annual increase through October 2022, when the base bill will reach $101.03, officials have said. Also, sanitation rates will increase from $20.38 a month to $22.27 during the next five years.
Council is likely vote on the ordinances during its meeting Tuesday.
The city has short-term and long-term projects, including a $7 million fix for water valves. A water valve failed in January, resulting in the downtown area being without water for days, and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency stepped in to mandate improvements.
The city also is looking at a roughly $2 million project…