Streetsboro -- Residents will not see their water rates increase any more this year.
Council members voted 4-2 April 14 not to increase rates by 5 percent, as was proposed by the city administration.
Voting not to increase rates by 5 percent were Council members Jeff Allen, Tim Claypoole, Regis Faivre and Steve Michniak. Voting to increase rates by 5 percent were Council President Julie Field and Vice President Bridget Pavlick, while Council member John Ruediger was absent.
If a resident uses 2,000 cubic feet of water, his current quarterly bill would be $96.15. With an additional 5 percent increase, the quarterly bill would have been $100.95, city officials said.
A 3.75 percent water rate increase previously took effect this year. Of that total, 1.75 percent goes to Portage County, which is where the city gets its water, and 2 percent goes to the city. The 5 percent increase would have been in addition to the 3.75 percent increase.
Mayor Glenn Broska believes the 5 percent increase is important because he said it would help pay for water line improvements.
"We have citizens that have been waiting patiently for many years to get city water, and now they will continue to wait well beyond what they should," Broska said. "We have citizens that, because they are on dead-end lines, have had to suffer with poor quality water and premature aging of their heating elements in their water heaters. I'm sure they have incurred costs beyond what the increase in water rates would have been."
Broska said he applauds Field and Pavlick "for exhibiting the courage and commitment to our residents by taking a stand to raise rates so we can improve the infrastructure for the city."
Field said increasing the water fees by an additional 5 percent "means being able to loop more water lines" in the future.
"We owe it to our residents go give them good water," Field said.
Pavlick agreed, saying, "We have to plan for our community's future."
Claypoole said there is no need for an additional increase beyond a 3.75 percent increase, which took effect this year.
"We can get projects done [in the next 10 years] without the 5 percent increase," Claypoole said. "Nothing shows to me it warrants [a 5 percent increase]."
Allen said he cannot see "putting more of a financial load" on residents with a 5 percent increase.
"It will cost some people a lot of money," Allen said.
Faivre, saying there is no need for a 5 percent increase now, suggested revisiting the issue at the end of the year.
Council voted to examine the proposed increase again in January or February of 2015.
Broska said he believes not increasing the rates by another 5 percent will hurt the city in paying off a new water tower.
"Council's inaction will jeopardize our ability to pay off the bonds early," Broska said. "I am certainly not in the habit of advocating for increasing water rates. However, from 2006 through 2011, the county raised its water rates over 25 percent, and the prior administrations failed to pass on those increases, as required by legislation. Those failures have landed in my lap, and now I must take the unenviable position of trying to do what should have been done long ago."
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