MOUNT VERNON — Despite signs that the local economy is beginning to rebound, ripple effects of the recession haven’t yet played out. Clinton Township residents discovered that in January when a wastewater increase went into effect. The increase saw rates go from $57 to $76.95 per quarter.
Not surprisingly, the township trustees have been getting an earful from constituents unhappy about the increase.
“A lot of these folks are in a situation where it’s hard to come up with [the money],” said township trustee Terry King.
He said that, unfortunately, the increase is out of the trustees’ hands, as it was set by the township’s sewer commission in response to governmental requirements.
The township’s sewer service is provided by the city of Mount Vernon, which levies a 40 percent surcharge to all customers outside city limits, a rate set by agreement with the county board of commissioners. However, the city was not responsible for the recent increase. The last increase made to the city rate was in 2005, according to Pam Muralt, administrator of billing and customer service for the city’s water and wastewater department.
Glenn Deboard, Clinton Township sewer commission treasurer, said that although the increase is unpleasant, it’s unavoidable.
“It’s pretty simple,” Deboard said. “It’s a matter of balancing our checkbook.”
Deboard said the original loans taken out to pay for sewer system infrastructure improvements in the township projected an increase of growth in coming years, with officials hoping for as many as four new taps per year. Unfortunately, he said, the recent sag in the economy has resulted in zero growth.
Even though revenue has been down on sewer accounts, Deboard said the Ohio Water Development Authority requires accounts to be kept at a certain minimum balance, which Clinton Township was falling below, because of the stalled growth. Deboard said the increase, which the sewer commission members point out they, too, must pay, was necessary to balance the books.
Deboard said a big concern right now is that the Knox County Board of Health is pushing for sewer improvements in the area of Stump Street and Northview Drive. He said the concern is that if those township residents aren’t able to pay for those improvements, the township is left holding the bag.
Deboard is working on a comparison of Clinton Township sewer rates with rates in other parts of the county, and hopes to present his findings at the next township meeting on Monday.
Muralt said the city’s billing is unlikely to change from its current quarterly basis, as monthly or bimonthly billing would result in increased paperwork and postage costs. She said that if it helped Clinton Township residents’ budgeting process, the city will accept partial payments in advance of the due date.