Cincinnati budget
4:00 am
Mon June 9, 2014

Cincy Council could determine water rates this week

Last week Cincinnati Council members could not agree on whether to raise city water rates.  They will try again during a public hearing Monday.
 
The water works had sought a 7.5 percent increase it said is needed to continue maintenance projects on the distribution system.  But Vice Mayor David Mann introduced an ordinance calling for a 4 percent rate hike.  He said residents have been hit with yearly rate increases since 2005.

"In months ahead of us, I hope we can look at whether there's some more effective ways to manage, or use personnel in water works so that we can make-up some of the difference," Mann said.  "The problem historically with an enterprise fund is that it's all too easy to perhaps not manage as well as we should, and we need to take a look at that as an alternative to solve the problem."

Council member Chris Seelbach last week called the compromise reasonable.

"It's not ideal, but you know people have had increases every year over several years," Seelbach said.  "It is a risk, but I think the risk is reasonable and it's one that we should get behind."

Not everyone agrees

At least one council member said the higher rate increase make sense especially since the city is facing a federal court order to repair the sewer system

"The federal government is requiring us to improve our infrastructure because we failed to do so on the MSD side," said Council Member Yvette Simpson said.  "We are now affirmatively deciding not to make improvements to our water system because we want to give people a three percent discount on their water bill."

Still some council members have pledged to not support any water rate increase.    

The water works said a 4 percent hike will slow improvement projects.  It said if there is no increase it could stop that work altogether and also could cause it to have problems repaying existing debts.  

The full Council will likely settle the issue Wednesday.