City looking to restructure sewer billing

Staff Writer

The City of St. Marys is proposing two new changes to their sewer billing system, specifically to begin
issuing sewer bills by service address and instituting a flat standard rate fee.
These changes would impact residential customers only at this time and would take effect January 1.
“The biggest change will be those users who haven’t received a bill before, will suddenly get a bill,” said City Manager Pearson. “To the users who are currently billed, you’re not going to see a change other than your bill going up or down a couple of bucks.”
St. Marys City Council unanimously approved to publish an amendment to the city’s ordinance addressing sewer rental rates. The ordinance currently states sewer rates are set by a resolution from council. Following the publication of the amendment, residents will then have the opportunity to voice their questions or concerns prior to council officially approving the proposed change.
Pearson said they are not addressing specific rates, rather how they come up with the rate structure. Currently the St. Marys Water Authority bills customers on a quarterly basis, during which time the city receives those readings. In the meantime the city must estimate the cost of a residents bill every 2-3 months. In the third month the city often makes frequent adjustments to sewer bills. Pearson said
“This presents a lot of challenges,” Pearson said. “There’s a lot of work done when it’s tied to the water meter. It doesn’t set us up for a fair billing for our services.”
As an example if a landlord has three units located on one piece of property, there may be one water meter installed at each unit totaling three separate meters, however some landlords have just one meter to service all three units resulting in only one water bill.
“This creates a lot of environments where individuals are technically sewer customers, who are not or haven’t been charged for a long time,” Pearson said.
As a result about 300 or more customers are being subsidized by current paying customers, but because their configuration is tied to a single water meter they are not being billed.