UTICA- Officials with Mohawk Valley Water Authority unanimously passed the 2% rate increase and the budget for 2019.
They invited residents to Utica City Hall on Monday night for a public hearing on the proposed budget and rate increase. One resident voiced his concerns at the meeting. He said he was worried about the increase long term.
Immediately after hearing his comments, the board voted and approved both the budget and the $7.84 increase for 2019.
The Executive Director for Mohawk Valley Water Authority, Pat Becher, said the rate increase is a necessity for repairs. He said there’s 750 miles of pipeline, and more than half is over 100 years old. "We have a lot of work to do to maintain flow of water on a regular basis,” said Becher. “The system has to be reliable and we have five crews that go out and we have thousands of valves that have to be maintained and thousands of fire hydrants that have to be maintained in order to provide for public safety and reliable water use,” he added.
The increase applies to the 2019 fiscal year.
The board also passed the $24.9 million for 2019, and $1.5 million of that includes a separate rate schedule for industrial water use. “We don't have any customers right now that actually qualify for that because it means they'd have to average 1.5 million gallons a day for usage,” said Becher. Currently the average household uses 150 gallons a day.
Becher said even though no one qualifies for it now, it sets up an incentive rate to keep the region competitive with other areas of the country, so industries see how much this area has to offer. He said it’s affordable and could be beneficial. "Well, if we're successful in attracting a large industry that will bring in new revenue to the system, that will help us in the future to avoid or at least minimize future rate increases, and allow us to do more work on the system without raising the rates so much on everybody else,” he added.
The rate increase will start January 1, 2019.