LISBON -Village water customers should brace for a combined 16 percent rate increase over the next nine months following action taken this week by the Board of Public Affairs.
The BPA voted to raise rates by 38 cents per 100 cubic feet starting Oct. 1 and by another 38 cents on April 1, 2013, the first such increases since 2008.
BPA member Bill Hoover said the increases were needed to not only keep up with rising operating costs associated with equipment and materials, but to build up a reserve to make future repairs and take on costly projects.
"We have no money if there's an emergency, and this will allow us to fund upcoming projects as they are mandated by the EPA," he said.
The average household uses 1,037 cubic feet of water per month, and the Oct. 1 rate increase will raise the average monthly bill by $3.94, or $47.29 annually.
The rate increases will also be passed onto those water customers who live outside village limits. Their rates will increase from $5.40 per 100 cubic feet to $5.78 starting Oct. 1. About 1,500 water customers will be affected.
Hoover stressed that none of the money generated by the increase will go for raises. He said water employees last received a pay raise four years ago.
Even with the increase, officials said Lisbon's water rates will be in the mid-range compared to other
communities in Columbiana County. "We're not as low as Salem, but we're not as high as Buckeye Water (District)," said BPA President Carol Petrachkoff.
Hoover said the Ohio Environmental Protection agency had "strongly recommended" they raise rates to create a reserve and thereby increase Lisbon's eligibility to receive state and federal funding when undertaking projects.
One of those projects would to improve water pressure to the northern part of town. Village Council approved a resolution at this week's meeting to seek funding from the Ohio Water Development Authority to fund a feasibility study that would result in a list of suggestions.
The engineering firm used by the village in 2009 recommended raising the 350,000-gallon water tower located on state Route 45 at an estimated cost of $1.2 million or build a new tower or booster station on Saltwell Road. The project went no where due to lack of funding.
The village now uses the engineering firm of Dallis Dawson & Associates, which would also look at those options and explore others, contingent upon funding being received from the state. Hooever estimated the feasibility study would cost $12,000.