Bulk Rate For Water May Rise

Steubenville City Council appeared ready to stand by a proposed bulk water rate hike for Jefferson County after City Manager Tim Boland said Tuesday the city will lose money if it continues to sell water at the $1.78 rate.

The bulk water rate was one of several issues discussed during two hours of committee meetings.

Boland said the cost of producing treated water is $2.46 for 1,000 gallons, and that is the rate the city plans to charge the county.

“We have an agreement in place to supply water to the county and the agreement language dictates when we can increase the price,” he said. “Because the cost of producing water has gone up we have implemented that language.”

Second Ward Councilman Mike Johnson said the city should work with the county, but can not afford to “give water away.”

“If selling water to the county at $1.78 puts us further in the hole, we can’t do that,” he said. “We need to charge the county the $2.46 rate and if they are charging their customers $10.13 for 1,000 gallons that is a tremendous profit for the county.”

According to Law Director S. Gary Repella, the city can charge the $2.46 for 1,000 gallons because that is what it costs to produce the water.

That discussion spurred First Ward Councilman Gerald DiLoreto to question the city’s delinquent water customers and sparked a debate over the performance audit to be conducted by the state auditor’s office.

Finance Director Alyssa Kerker said she has met with representatives from the office to compile what will be needed to complete the audit. However, Boland said the problem appears to be with the water review board.

“We need to put the issue of delinquent accounts in the hands of the performance audit,” Boland said.