MSD Rate Affordability Task Force by Marie Kocoshis

A resolution adopted by the Hamilton County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) on March 18, 2015 created a task force to study impact of rising sewer rates on rate payers in Hamilton County and make recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners on potential rate structure and/or policy changes that can mitigate or otherwise affect impact of these rates, as well as encourage the conservation of water. Eighteen members were appointed representing local government, business owners, homeowners, renters, senior citizens, low income residents, environmental groups and non-profits.

There were community meetings focused on the burden of the ever rising sewer rates and citizens inability to pay. The rate increases from 2007 range from 8.60% in 2007 to 12% in 2009 to 6% in 2015. The bills are assessed quarterly which also creates a financial burden for folks on fixed incomes.

The first meeting on Sept 23, 2015 was chaired by Thomas Moeller, Madeira City Manager. The task force has had presentations on current rate structure and also comparison of rate structures with other Ohio cities: Akron, Cleveland, Columbus, and Toledo. They have requested information on a variety of topics. At subsequent meetings the group was given presentations on infiltration/ inflow and some alternate systems to structure fees. The most recent meeting on January 27 was a presentation on stormwater removal program, and on billing, water usage and cost of service determination. These presentations are background information intended to assist task force members in crafting their recommendations.

This recommendation will be due to the Hamilton County Board of County Commissioners in April 2016. The BOCC has deferred raising sewer rates until this report from the task force is rendered. Subsequently, the BOCC will make a decision on sewer rates on July 1, 2016.

More information on the sewer rates can be found on the Hamilton County Commission web site.