Vienna City Council OKs water, sewer hikes on first reading

Photo by Jeffrey Saulton Members of the Vienna City Council discussed raising rates for water and sewer service. Members voted 4 to 3 in favor of the first reading for an ordinance to increase the rates for the first time in 13 years.

VIENNA — Rates for water and sewer service may be heading up for residents of Vienna for the first time in 13 years.

In a 4 to 3 vote Thursday, Vienna City Council approved the first reading of an ordinance to raise the rates to the level recommended by the Vienna Utility Board on Wednesday.

Finance Director Amy Roberts said the new rate will increase water service by 96 cents per 1,000 gallons and sewer service by $2.10 per 1,000 gallons.

Roberts said the rates approved by the council will be published Tuesday and on Oct. 26 the council will conduct a public hearing and then have a second reading of the ordinance calling for the increase.

If approved in the second reading, the new rates would go into effect in 45 days.

Photo by Jeffrey Saulton Councilman Bruce Rogers, left, gives his opinion on his support for the increase while Councilman Roger Conley listens during Thursday’s meeting of Vienna City Council.

On Wednesday, a second proposal on an increase was presented to the utility board. In that proposal the rate was 69 cents per 1,000 gallons for water and $1.41 for sewer service.

Under that rate increase, no expansions of the water or sewer systems would take place, but it would allow the departments to meet the bond covenants and the new maintenance reserve fund of 12.5 percent for each department.

Mayor Randy Rapp said the higher increases were needed for the departments to be ready to meet future needs.

“It has been said there is no such thing as no change; you are either going downhill or you are growing– one of the two,” he said.

Rapp said the increases allowed room for projects to expand sewer lines toward Rosemar Road, the only direction the city can expand.

He said there was work on reducing the problem the city has with inflow and infiltration on the sewer lines. Rapp said after a rainstorm the city pumps an extra million gallons or more per day to Parkersburg for treatment, increasing the costs; there is no difference made for how much is sewage or rainwater.

It would also allow the city to remove four sewage lift stations, reducing maintenance costs, Rapp said.

Rapp said a critical need is for rehabilitation for wells 7 and 8. If those two wells are not rehabilitated the city could find itself buying water from Parkersburg if any of the other wells were not usable for any reason, he said.

It would also include laying a 10-inch water line through the center of the city.

Rapp said when they asked the accountant to come up with a lower rate the only way to lower the rate was to eliminate all improvements other than to fix the inflow infiltration problem as mandated by the state.

Rapp said he wants the city to look at increasing rates again in three to five years. He noted other cities and public service districts do periodic reviews of their rates.

Rapp, recorder Cathy Smith and Councilmen Jim Leach and Bruce Rogers voted for the increase. Councilmen Roger Bibbee, Roger Conley and Mike Elam cast the dissenting votes.