Champaign council considers 6 percent hike in sewer fee

CHAMPAIGN — A proposed sanitary sewer rate increase is scheduled to top city council members' agenda when they launch into another round of budget talks on Tuesday night.

City officials say they would need a 6 percent increase in the fee charged to property owners to keep pace with expenses that have grown since they last increased the fee in 2011. Without the raise, they say the shortfall likely would lead to more sewer breakdowns and sewage backups on private property.

City officials are proposing that council members adopt a fee of $3.02 per average daily cubic feet of water usage, up from the current $2.85 rate. That means a typical single-family home using an average of 25 cubic feet of water per day — or about 187 gallons — would pay $75.50 annually, up from the current $71.25.

Businesses would be affected by the six percent increase, too. According to city documents, a small office building might use around 47 cubic feet of water per day and see an $8 annual increase in its bill. A full-service restaurant, which typically would use roughly 745 cubic feet of water per day, could see a $126 annual increase.

The city collects a little more than $2 million in sanitary sewer fee revenue each year. About $1 million of that pays for seven full-time public works employees assigned to the sewer crew, and about $550,000 goes directly toward construction. The rest goes toward other miscellaneous costs.

The costs associated with maintaining and fixing city sewers has risen, according to a memo to the city council, but the revenue the city collects from the fee has not. Without a six percent increase in the sanitary sewer fee, city officials say, they eventually would have to stop coating sewers with a protective lining that keeps smalls cracks from getting bigger.

According to the memo, the "aggressive" approach to sewer maintenance decreases the amount of emergency repairs workers need to make and it lessens the frequency of sewage backups on private property.

The increase and the $120,000 in new revenue it would produce each year would allow city officials to continue that preventative maintenance and keep cracking sewers from breaking down entirely.

How the fee is calculated

The city is contemplating a rate of $3.02 that would be applied to the average daily use to produce the annual sewer fee. The average daily use is calculated based on a reading taken between November and March. So if you used an average of 25 cubic feet per day, your sewer fee would be $75.50 - 25 times $3.02.

Sections (2):News, Local

Comments

News-Gazette.com embraces discussion of both community and world issues. We welcome you to contribute your ideas, opinions and comments, but we ask that you avoid personal attacks, vulgarity and hate speech. We reserve the right to remove any comment at our discretion, and we will block repeat offenders' accounts. To post comments, you must first be a registered user, and your username will appear with any comment you post. Happy posting.

Login or register to post comments

MidwestEditor wrote on May 20, 2013 at 8:05 am

"About $1 million of that pays for seven full-time public works employees assigned to the sewer crew"

Public works employees make an average of $142,000/year?!

 

 

 

rsp wrote on May 20, 2013 at 9:05 am

I'm more interested in the construction costs and the misc. costs. That's a lot of misc. that's not broken down. 

Olu1981 wrote on May 20, 2013 at 12:05 pm

I would guess that the $1 million covers salaries, benefits, retirement contributions, etc. I seriously doubt they take home that much.

pattsi wrote on May 20, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Just a reminder that this increase is being proposed right after the city council approved a $60 flat fee/tax on a 6000 square foot site as a regressive form of generating monies for stormwater. This is dedicated monies. That said when there will be work for stormwater mitigation a logical follow through is any sewer work while ground is open. Both of these generate a great deal of monies for this type of work. So the larger question is can the citizens of Champaign continue to be stretched by increasing taxes/fees/whatever it is termed when the citizens are already so stretched that there is no longer elasticity to discretionary monies? Next will come the Unit 4 referendum in 2014 along with any referenda the county may have on the horizon. There is not one service in this community that has not increased in cost greater than the CPI.

rsp wrote on May 20, 2013 at 11:05 pm

They are really dishonest with the voters by trying to hide everything. Dividing everything up into little fees here and there so you can't see how much you're really paying. And they haven't have good stewardship of what we ask of them.

Take the schools. They knew they were getting a bunch of money so they spent it with the plan of coming back asking for more instead of starting off with a comprehensive needs list from the beginning. I resent this "the high school is falling" when they didn't care about it before. Now it's a ploy to get money I don't have.

The sewer system and the storm drains just seems to get ever more convoluted as it goes along. It seems like they have someone who's sole job it is to think up new ways to charge us. It rains on our property so we have to pay a fee. It's a tax. We all know it's a tax. Just plan a budget that includes what you plan on spending and stick to it. 

thelowedown wrote on May 20, 2013 at 11:05 pm

"They are really dishonest with the voters by trying to hide everything. Dividing everything up into little fees here and there so you can't see how much you're really paying."

Add 'em up. Calculators are cheap. Even Google.com acts as one.

rsp wrote on May 21, 2013 at 9:05 pm

And I'll bet you'll still miss something.