XENIA — Greene County sewer rate payers may see an increase in their rates this year.
During a work session July 26, County Administrator Brandon Huddleson asked the commissioners to consider a 4 or 5 percent sewer rate increase to begin sometime in 2018. This would fund a necessary major construction project at the Beavercreek wastewater treatment plant, as well as smaller sewer line projects throughout the system.
Huddleson said a recently completed Beavercreek sanitary sewer collection system master plan, which is done every 20 years, showed that the plant is at or near capacity due to local growth. Rated at 8.5 million gallons a day, daily flow at the plant has exceeded that number for 243 days this year.
“We are a victim of our own success,” Huddleson said. “The growth we have seen in Beavercreek particularly is driving improvements that we’re going to need to make …”
Guided by a demand from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the county is beginning to plan for the future — specifically how to treat additional flows — which includes running a stress test on the plant during wet weather this fall.
The north part of the plant, built in the 1990s, already has land set aside to be able to expand and double the capacity of that piece, adding potentially another 6 million gallons worth of treatment.
The project would be fully funded by the rate payers, Huddleson explained. Incremental increases would allow the county to afford the annual debt service payments.
Coming solely from the preliminary discussion, the construction project could cost somewhere in the realm of $35 to $45 million, but actual numbers haven’t been calculated yet.
“It’s hard to do (approve increase in rates) but it’s the responsible thing to do if you know you’re going to spend this money and borrow the money,” Huddleson told the commissioners.
The commissioners discussed a rate increase that could be 4 percent a year over a period of 4 or 5 years, which amounts to a total 16-20 percent increase over that period. For example, that would cost payers an extra estimated $30 over that total period (of 4 years) or $7.50 per year.
A 16 percent increase would generate about $2.4 million. Huddleson recommended stretching the increase over a total of 30 years.
Commissioner Tom Koogler was adamant that he didn’t want to further discussion on numbers until he received results from the stress test.
“I don’t know what it is going to be but I know it is going to be something,” Huddleson said of the numbers. “I’m telling you I know enough today to tell you you need to begin to start raising this.”
Increasing the rates soon would prepare for the impending bond payments in the future.
The planning is done in consideration of a 2035 plan that looks at growth, regional planning, treatment and capacity.