Maryville’s City Council is in the process of approving increases in sewer and water rates, which could cost the average resident $677.40 more per year on their water bills by 2023.
Over the summer, the city hired a company to complete the first water and sewer rate study since 2005. That study showed that in order for Maryville to gain enough revenue to support the system and save money for future projects, such as replacing old pipes, the city would have to increase sewer rates 50% and water rates 25%.
The City Council is discussing alternatives to a dramatic price hike, including a two-year plan. In that plan, residents would see a 13% increase in both the minimum charge and the volumetric rate for 2022 and 2023, respectively. Residents would also see a 28% increase in their sewer rates for both the minimum charge and the volumetric rate for 2022 and 2023.
If the City Council were to approve this plan, the average Maryville resident with a five-eighth water meter would see their water bill increase by $8.88 for 2022, then in 2023 increase $12.25. Residents would also see their sewer bill increase by $15.91 for 2022 and then an additional $19.41 increase for 2023.
The plan would total to an extra $24.79 a month for 2022 and $31.66 each month for 2023 — an increase that would have the average resident paying $677.40 more each year on their water bills.
Though this plan has not been approved, City manager Greg McDanel said increased rates are inevitable.
“There will be an increase, whatever that amount is, on their February bill,” McDanel said.
These price increases do not account for any of the other recommended rate changes that NewGen Strategies & Solutions proposed, including the rate increases for all meters and adding on a new $16.95 charge for those that have a five-eighths meter, which most residential buildings in Maryville have. This also does not include the potential increase in fire sprinkle rates that NewGen Strategies & Solutions also wants to add to monthly bills.
City Council member Dannen Merrill said he is in favor of spreading out the cost over two years.
“I think it's great that we have some flexibility to spread that out, and I also think that looking further down the road. I think when you put it in dollar figures, that it is a lot more manageable over even a two or three year period for most consumers,” Merrill said.
Not all of the City Council members are sold on the idea of spreading out the cost. Member Rachael Martin is concerned about the time it would take for Maryville to break even if the city decided to implement a phased-in rate increase instead of just one large spike.
“I think that as a consumer, the phase-in approach is, of course, more attractive,” Martin said. “I am debating with myself which is the right move because we are basically taking that much longer before we are breaking even, and some of the feedback that I have gotten is, ‘why should we pay more when you guys haven't solved the problem?’”
While the City Council did not vote on any proposal to increase water and sewer rates yet, McDanel said a decision will be made within the month.