- Published: Tuesday, 07 March 2017 17:50
By Cheryl Splain, KnoxPages.com Reporter
MOUNT VERNON — Residents using the county's sewer services will see an increase in rates on their July statements. The increase affects residents in Apple Valley, Howard and Pleasant View Acres in Monroe Township. Water rates will remain the same.
“The sewer fund is drastically in the red for 2017,” said Jeff Pickrell, county water/wastewater superintendent, regarding the need for the increase. “It looks like projections show that by 2019 the sewer fund will be in the black; maybe sooner. [Right now,] we're dipping into the reserve. Instead of putting money in the reserve for major future projects, we are taking it away.”
Beginning with the May 20 through June 19 usage cycle, the base sewer rate will increase to $18.34. Base rates for 2018-21 will be $20.84, $23.34, $25.84 and $28.34, respectively. There are 2,919 customers on the Apple Valley/Howard system and 49 in Pleasant View Acres.
For Apple Valley and Howard residents, the overage rate will increase by 25 cents to $4 for every 1,000 gallons after 4,000 gallons. Pickrell said the overage increase will affect about 50 percent of users. Apple Valley and Howard residents will continue to see the debt service user rate of $12.89 on their bill.
Residents last saw a rate increase in 2011. Prior to that, a five-year gradual increase was in place. Commissioner Teresa Bemiller said the increases were suspended when the new water treatment plant went into operation.
Pickrell said that from what he has been told, wastewater officials recommend putting back between 15 percent and 20 percent of the operating budget each year for major capital expenses. “Obviously, we're not doing that,” he said.
“This was the minimum,” said Jason Booth, county administrator. “We looked at all of the numbers to get us where we need to be. We're still going to be digging into this fund for the next two years. Jeff believes there are some efficiencies that can be implemented that will also help.”
Pickrell agreed. “We'll look at operational costs, things we can control to be a little bit more efficient with our funds,” he said.