COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The Columbus City Council approved raising three utility bills for residents in its Monday meeting.
The new ordinances — 3036-2022, 3037-2022 and 3038-2022 — amend the city code and target the city’s water, sanitary sewer and stormwater utilities. Respectively, they increase rates by 5%, 4% and 2% according. The legislation’s record on the city website said the council based the rate increases on a Columbus household’s average water used per quarter.
A video recording of the city council meeting showed its members passed all three ordinances without any objection after a presentation by Rob Dorans, council chair of public utilities.
“Overall, this adds approximately $14.07 to a residential customer bill each quarter, or $56.29 per year,” Dorans said. “I’d like to point out that the adjustments are less than last year.”
Divided evenly across the year, the above increases total to an extra $4.69 per month for the average Columbus resident. Doran also noted that the city would keep its discount program for water bills for low-income families, which cuts their water and sewer bills by 20%. Columbus residents who are facing water shut-off or overdue bills can also get a one-time $750 payment toward a water, sewer or stormwater bill that is 90 days past due.
The city expects to make an additional $7.2 million in revenue off of the rate increases, according to the ordinance’s online record. Jonathan Lee, deputy director of fiscal operations, joined the meeting to say that the proposed rate increases were intended to help cover new expenses the city was facing, as well as its debt service costs for the city’s $4 billion capital improvement program.
“We understand that rate increases are not popular, especially in this time of rising prices and inflation,” Lee said. “Our operations are not immune to these increases and we have experienced significant increases in materials, supplies, chemicals and construction costs in 2022.”
Anyone wanting a low-income or senior discount can apply on the city’s website. A single-person household is eligible if its annual income is $21,146 or less, and a four-person family qualifies with a total income of $41,363 or less.