Bellaire Village Council to Debate Rate Hikes

BELLAIRE — A dispute about the need to raise water rates led the discussion during this week’s meeting of Bellaire Village Council, when that proposed hike and a proposed increase in garbage collection rates were rejected.

Councilman Dan Brown said council was not sufficiently informed about the rate increase legislation.

“The village council was not informed that any legislation was being created to raise water rates,” he said, adding that the proposed legislation will be reviewed by the ordinance committee at 6 p.m. April 26.

“It was sent to committee,” Brown said, adding that the legislation would be discussed and a report prepared for the next council meeting. He added that the ordinance committee is made up of himself, Councilwoman Nikki Liberatore and Councilman Robert Koteles.

“We just talked about it. We didn’t do anything with it,” Councilman Jerry Fisher said of the legislation proposed Thursday. “The ordinance committee’s got to look at it. I questioned how did we arrive at the rates. The ordinance committee said they didn’t see it.”

Fisher added that the potential rate increases must be addressed.

“We know that we need to do something with the rates, because it’s not enough to cover everything,” he said, adding that this is true of water service and garbage collection. “I don’t think we’ve had a garbage rate, had an increase, in 17 years.”

According to the text of the water rate increase proposal, the new rates would have been effective June 1 if approved. The ordinance would have added $12.50 to the current rate for the first 2,000 gallons of usage per month and an additional 50 cents to the current rate for each additional 1,000 gallons of usage thereafter.

The need for funds to update the water treatment plant and the possibility of a water rate increase have been discussed during prior meetings. Proposals had included reducing sewer rates and increasing water rates to build up funds for the upgrades, but Village Administrator Scott Porter pointed out the need for sewer maintenance as well and added that a water rate increase would be necessary in the long run. He had added that needed upgrades include a new roof for the plant, a dehumidifier, an air exchange system and a new chlorine room to replace the current, outdated chlorine room. He said the updated plant would also need new windows and doors and safety measures, and that the project would bring the village up to date.

He added that the village is seeking federal and local funding for the work. Financing for the initial phase already has been approved through the Ohio Water Development Authority. The first phase is estimated to cost about $1.3 million, which will be funded through the OWDA.

Council members also had previously proposed holding a public meeting to bring the need for a rate increase before residents, to answer questions and gather further input.

The next Bellaire Village Council meeting will be held at 6 p.m. May 4 at the municipal building.