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Salem council OKs sewer rate increase starting in May

SALEM — Council on Tuesday approved the sewer rate increase that’s been talked about at several meetings over the past two months, effective May 1.

The vote was 6-0 to enact a $12 increase to the minimum monthly sewer bill for 200 cubic feet of wastewater plus a 5 percent increase to the monthly usage rate for usage over the minimum for 2021.

In subsequent years, the monthly base will increase by $5 for each year through 2025 and the monthly usage rate will increase by 2.75 percent each year.

For users outside the city, there’s a 50 percent surcharge on the usage rate, so they’ll pay more than city users.

According to the ordinance, the new base rate for the minimum usage of up to 200 cubic feet of wastewater for city users will be $17.37 per month. Each additional 100 cubic feet will cost $2.69 per month. For the typical user of 600 cubic feet per month, the cost will be $28.13 in 2021. By 2025, that cost will be $50.09 per month.

The sanitary sewer rate for outside the city will be $26.06 for the base rate for 2021 for 200 cubic feet of wastewater. Each additional 100 cubic feet will cost $4.04 per month. For the typical user of 600 cubic feet per month, that’s a cost of $42.20 in 2021. By 2025, that cost will be $75.14 per month.

The city Utilities Commission had requested the rate increase, citing a need for more income to cover mandated upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant, plus the fact that rates were last increased 25 years ago and needed to go up so the department can keep up with the cost of doing business.

In other business, council approved the issuance and sale of $1 million in notes related to street improvements from the .25 percent income tax. During a Finance Committee meeting held earlier in the evening, city Auditor Betty Brothers explained that this is done every year as the city pays down the debt related to the street improvements.

The city currently owes $2 million for a note at Farmers National Bank which comes due April 30. The plan is to pay down $1 million of the debt, then borrow $1 million from Premier Bank at a lower interest rate of 1.25 percent.

The Finance Committee recommended the action taken by council.

mgreier@salemnews.net

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