By Julie Ann Madden
Akron councilors plan to raise all three utility rates: electric, water and sewer.
At their April 23 meeting, the council set a public hearing on raising the utility rates for 7 p.m., May 14, which is their next council meeting.
Electric Rate Increase
Akron Public Works Director Gary Horton recommended a 4 percent increase in the city’s electric rates.
“This increase is based off some changes from our wheeling agent (East River Electric Power Cooperative) and secondary electricity supplier (Heartland Consumer Power District),” said Horton.
“We are also updating our electric system,” he said. “Each year we try and replace our older underground lines.”
“This year we are replacing several blocks of lines that are approximately 35 years old,” said Horton. “We’re constantly trying to upgrade our system.”
There will be no change to the basic service charge, he said. “It’s only going to be on the kilowatt hour charges.”
For Akron’s average residential customer, their electrical bill will increase $3.24 per month.
Akron Mayor Harold Higman Jr. informed the public the city actually received the increased electrical costs Jan. 1 but the council’s philosophy is not to raise utility rates in the middle of winter. That is why this is being done now.
Water Rate Increase
In the 2012 Water and Wastewater Rate Study for Akron, Iowa, conducted by JEO Consulting Group Inc. of Lincoln, Neb., it recommended increases to both the city’s water and wastewater rates.
One reason was the current updating of the city’s well system. With this year’s $300,000 project, it has drawn down the Water Utility Fund’s reserves, explained Horton, noting JEO Consultants recommended slowly building the reserves back up.
The recommended water rate increase was 10 percent which will increase the average residential customer’s bill $1.85 per month, said Horton, noting the water utility rates have only been increased twice in the last decade: once in 2003 and once last year.
Wastewater Rate Increase
Horton informed the council it was also recommended the wastewater rate increase 10 percent. This would cost the average residential customer $1.15 a month more.
“We’re looking down the road at building a new sewer lift station at the end of Reed Street,” said Horton, estimating the cost of this project at $350,000. “That is the city’s main lift station that pumps all of the city’s sewage out to the lagoon.”
The last time the wastewater rates were increased was in 2003.
The total utility rate increase for the average residential customer will be $6.24 per month, said Councilor Barbara Johnson.
“Gary has put a lot of research into this,” said Higman, “and he’s being very fair.”
“It’s important to maintain our infrastructure,” he said, “and consequently, this is what this is about in terms of the water and sewer rate increases but the electric increase is due to the increased costs from our suppliers.”