OSWEGO, NY – The sewer rate schedule that was adopted by the Common Council in December 2015 didn’t create parity between low-volume users and high-volume users, Mayor Billy Barlow said Monday night.
A typical residential property would be expected to use about 20,000 gallons of water per quarter and would be charged $200 for such usage under the current rate schedule. That amounts to a rate if $10 per 1,000 gallons, the mayor noted.
High end users would be charged about $5 under the current rate schedule.
According to the 2015 resolution: “… Metered sewer base rate shall be $150/quarter for the first 10,000 gallons or 1,337 cubic feet and usage over the base shall be billed at $5 per 1,000 gallons or 134 cubic feet. The new water and sewer rates shall be applied to all accounts on the current schedule.”
“I am recommending a modification to the sewer rate schedule that addresses this disparity,” the mayor said Monday night. “Our goal is to alleviate some of the pressure for our homeowners and to get our heavier users to pay their fair share.”
The change won’t affect homeowners, the mayor said, adding, “Obviously we don’t want to hurt small businesses in town” like small restaurants, for example.
They went through and found some thresholds there were comfortable with, which would only affect the heavier users, he explained.
Under the mayor’s proposal would keep be $150/quarter for the first 10,000 gallons, But the next 240,000 gallons would be $5 per thousand; 600,000 gallons would be $7.50 per thousand; anything over 850,000 gallons would be $10 per thousand.
The average person uses between 80 and 100 gallons of water a day. So if three people use 75 gallons a day, for a quarter, it would be 20,000 gallons, the mayor said. So an individual would pay about $10 per thousand.
“I think this is a strategic way to really rule out homeowners and get the big users to pay their fair share,” the mayor said.
Councilor Shawn Walker said he was in favor of helping take some of the burden off homeowners.
Councilor Pat McLaughlin, who asked the mayor early this year to look into ways of reducing the cost to homeowners, agreed.
“I’d like to thank the mayor for doing this and keeping his word to me,” McLaughlin said. “Good job. I’m 100 percent for this.”
“This is a very fair and equitable solution to this,” Councilor Robert Corradino added.
Councilor John Gosek asked what happens if large apartment complexes have to pay more?
“They are billed as a business,” City Attorney Kevin Caraccioli explained. “How they’d pass that on to their tenants is up to them.”
The committee sent the proposal to the full council for consideration.
If approved, the following metered sewer rate schedule shall take effect with all sewer bills issued after June 1, 2016: Metered sewer base rate shall be $150 for the first 10,000 gallons or 1,337 cubic feet; the next 240,000 gallons of usage shall be $5 per 1,000 gallons or $3.75 per 100 cubic feet for the next 32,000 cubic feet; the next 600,000 gallons at $7.50 per thousand or $5.62 per 100 cubic feet for the next 80,000 cubic feet; and all usage over 850,000 gallons at $10 per thousand or all usage over 113,337 cubic feet at $7.50 per 100 cubic feet.
In other business:
The council will reconsider a resolution passed weeks ago – approving a contract to use herbicides to control weed growth at various sites around the Port City.
Several residents have spoken out recently on the dangers posed by using such chemicals.
Spraying was set to begin Monday, but was postponed due to the inclement weather.
At next week’s meeting, councilors will reconsider the resolution and the potential ramifications of amending or rescinding the resolution.
Check back later for more details.