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Lisbon water rates to rise slightly

LISBON — The village board of public utilities finally decided on a water rate increase, and it will cost the average household an additional $1.25 per month.

The BPA on Tuesday scrapped the old rate system, which had only been in effect since March. It charged $9.87 per 100 cubic feet for the first 200 cubic feet of water and then $5.69 for every 100 cubic feet used after that.

The new rate structure, which goes into effect Nov. 1, will result in the rate dropping back to $5.69 per 100 cubic feet for the first 200 cubic feet, which is the minimum everyone is charged. Anyone using more than that will be billed $7 per 100 cubic feet.

The rates for out-of-town water customers will go from $7.28 per 100 cubic feet to $8.05 per cubic feet after the first 200 cubic feet.

Utilities director Chris Peterson said Lisbon households use an average of 400 cubic feet of water (3,000 gallons) per month. This means their rates will increase by $1.25 a month, or $2.50 per two-month billing cycle.

Peterson said under the new rate structure Lisbon residents using the minimum would pay $5.74 less per billing cycle, which BPA member Vito DiIullo said was by design.

“We kept the minimum the same (as before) so that people can control the cost by not using as much water,” DiIullo said.

The rate increase was recommended by a representative of the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP), a non-profit agency that helps local governments assess its water system needs. RCAP determined Lisbon’s rates needed to get to 1.7 percent of the village’s median household income to qualify for state grants and other government assistance to pay for water system improvements. BPA chairman Bill Hoover said this week’s action gets them to 1.7 percent.

“We did not take this lightly. We agonized over this for a long time,” he said.

This is the third time this year water rates have been increased: an automatic 3 percent increase took effect in January, followed by the increase enacted by the BPA in February.

Even with those increases, the village’s rate was only at 1.2 percent of median household income.

The annual 3 percent increase was supposed to generate enough additional income to help the BPA keep pace with rising operating costs, but that was not the case. Peterson said the annual increases will continue until the BPA says otherwise.

The increase enacted this week is expected to generate an additional $100,000 per year.

RCAP is also recommending village sewer rates be increased from a flat $7.09 per 100 cubic feet to $8.09. The BPA asked village council — which sets sewer rates — to enact the recommended increase, starting Jan. 1. This would increase costs by $4 per billing cycle for a household using 400 cubic feet a month, or 3,000 gallons.

Hoover reminded council they contract with the county sewer district, so they have to charge an additional fee to cover the costs of maintaining village sewer lines and pump stations.

Council president Dawn Thomas said she would like to first explore going to a two-tier rate system, with village sewer customers located out of town paying a higher sewer rate than residents.

Hoover said they also recommend council reinstate an automatic 3 percent sewer rate increase in effect between 2015-19. They are also asking the new rate increase, like the annual water rate hike, remain in effect until otherwise rescinded.

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