LEETONIA — Residents of the village can expect an increase in tariffs for the use of water and village services. During Wednesday’s board meeting, members initiated an estimated raise of fifteen and a half percent. The increase will take effect on April 1.
“It’s really Salem who raised his rates. We have no other option,” said Mayor Kevin Siembida.
According to Siembida, the operating costs of the treatment plant have been covered until Salem’s water purchase tariffs increase. Combined with inflation, Siembida said he struggled to find another choice.
Village residents will see a one-time basic increase of $5 and an additional annual increase of $1 for five years.
An average water and sewer bill of $104.96 will increase to $111.46. Customers will receive a minimum monthly water and sewer charge of $66.67. The rate increase will generate approximately $64,150 per year with an additional $14,880 for additional usage per gallon beyond 1,000 gallons.
Funds from the rate increase will stabilize operational costs such as labor, processing, testing, and other operating system requirements while adjusting to Salem’s rate increase .
“The reality is that the system should have been replaced in the 1970s”, said Siembida. “The system has reached its useful life.”
Siembida explained that the sand-laid water pipes throughout the village were past their expiration date. Lines intended to last 50 to 90 years have been in use since the 1880s and 1890s.
“They reached their useful life in the 1970s. That’s when they should have been replaced. They just put it off for another 50 years and now that’s why we’re stuck with it,” said Siembida.
The line replacements being completed by the village are part of a long-term cost reduction plan. Siembida said replacing these pipes reduces operating costs and the amount of water the village purchases from Salem.
“The biggest cost of our operation is the loss of water”, he said. “The biggest cost to people’s bills is the cost of water loss in our system.”
According to Siembida, the loss of water in the village took between 40 and 60% of the water purchase budget. Repairing fire hydrants and completing work on water lines will correct water loss issues.
According to Siembida, the village buys more than 5 million gallons from Salem but only bills residents for 3.3 million.
“These other millions are just sinking into the ground,” he said. “Since we have to buy our water, we are charged for it.”