Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Council Considers Sewer Rate Hike

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Council Considers Sewer Rate Hike

Article excerpt

Charleston residents could soon pay more for their sewer service. A bill was introduced at Monday night's City Council meeting that would increase the Charleston Sanitary Board's rates. The proposal calls for an increase from $21.87 to $26.06 for the first 2,000 gallons of water used each month. An additional rate for each 1,000 gallons used after that would increase from $11.97 to $14.26 should the bill pass council without amendments.

The proposed rate increase isn't unexpected. Sanitary board director Larry Roller said last year it would apply for a rate increase in 2015.

The sanitary board's current rates are based on 1.5 percent of the area's median household income from the 2000 Census. But since that time, the city's median household income has increased 40 percent, from $34,009 in 2000 to $47,582, according to 2008-2012 U.S. Census data.

The sanitary board was last granted a 33 percent increase in 2011.

The proposal was referred to council's Finance Committee.

Council voted Monday night to again offer free parking on Saturdays during the holiday season. Parking in the city will be free at all city operated facilities on November 28 and December 5, 12, and 19.

Members of the Finance Committee and other council members present were given updates on the city's other pension benefits (OPEB) liabilities. Those are health care costs for retirees that are paid for by the city.

A report from Treasurer Vic Grigoraci showed the city has $126 million in OPEB liabilities. But City Manager David Molgaard said Monday, "There's a lot of assumptions that go into that number.

Claims costs are expected to increase by $1 million each year, Molgaard said. Then there is a discount rate of 5 percent. Molgaard added the number also took into account a 3 percent inflation rate and a payroll increase.

"Our payroll grew 4 percent in the last budget year, but five years prior to that it was zero, Molgaard said.

City Council voted this summer to give city employees a 4 percent raise. …

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