The Issue: Water Rates Increase
bullet Background Information & Outcome
bullet My Position & Rationale
bullet Research & Press Coverage

Background Information & Outcome

The Legislation: Ordinance No. 30-02 amending Section 1.A of Ordinance No. 5-2000 in order to provide for an increase in water rates and provide for the billing and collection of water rentals.

This legislation was discussed in several North Canton City Council meetings (January 22, 2002, February 4, 2002 and February 19, 2002) before being referred to council by the Water, Sewer & Rubbish Committee for legislation. The legislation continued to receive vigorous debate throughout the three readings before council.

The Outcome: The legislation was read at three open council meetings (February 25, 2002; March 11, 2002; and, March 25, 2002). The legislation required at least four votes for passage and received the needed votes for all three readings. The third and final reading resulted in the following votes:

Yes: Osborne, Snyder Kiesling and McLaughlin.
Abstained: 0
No: Foltz and Magel

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My Position and Rationale

My Position:  The City of North Canton needed the water rate increase.

bullet The City of North Canton had increased water rates only once in the previous 18 years, and although this might have been good for water users in the short run, it was not a good course of action in the long run.

An analysis of North Canton water rates charted since 1981 (Place link to Excel Chart – Water Rates vs. Inflation Chart), shows that North Canton water rates have not kept pace with inflation and have fallen far short for many years.

The city was able to maintain water rates at the same level for a number of years by not spending money on needed improvements for the city’s water treatment plant (WTP) and later by running water lines outside the city limits. In this way, the city sold water to customers outside the city at rates more than double what residents inside the city were paying. This made up for some lost revenue but did not allow for any buildup of reserves for future WTP improvements or major maintenance.

But with the increasing costs and competition from other water providers, the city could not continue raising water rates to outside customers. By 2002, water rates to inside residential users were falling behind the actual costs of water production and distribution costs. And the city’s WTP was beginning to show its age.

bullet Because the city had deferred improvements for many years, the city’s water treatment plant now needed a six-million dollar upgrade.

In addition, the expansion of water sales to users outside now required that the City of North Canton expand the capacity of the WTP to handle all of its new customers at peak usage times.

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Research & Press Coverage

bullet Research Reports
bullet Press Coverage

Research Reports

I believe the extensive research I conducted on the water rates issue contributed to the passage of this legislation.

Listed below are five reports I contributed over the many weeks that this issue was discussed in City Council:

bullet Revenue Bond Requirements for $6.7 Million Improvements to City Water Plant

This report highlights the need for an adequate revenue stream from water rates so that North Canton would qualify for revenue bonds in the bond market.

bullet Comparison of Water Rate Structures With Alliance, Consumers Ohio, Canton City & Stark County MSD

This report addresses how needlessly complicated North Canton’s water rate structure was compared to other water providers in the area.

bullet Comparison of North Canton Water Rates with Alliance, Consumers Ohio, Canton City & Stark County MSD

This study of water rates at various usage levels among local water providers involved extensive calculations using each provider’s rates and rate schedules at comparable usage levels.

The tables of water costs and the line charts proved invaluable in showing the need for a $0.75 increase in Inside Water Rates and a lesser increase in Outside Water Rates.

bullet Proposed Water Rate Increase ($0.50 Inside and $1.25 Outside) is not Financially Sound and Will Alienate Outside Water Users

In this report, I calculated the proposed increase in water rates. The resulting tables and line charts clearly showed that the proposed $0.50 increase in Inside Rates was financially inadequate. In addition, the $1.25 increase in Outside rates was too high for outside users to be competitive and could result in a loss of water customers to other water providers.

bullet Response to Rate Increase Proposed by Doug Foltz, Ward 1 Councilman

I wrote the memo above in response to Councilman Doug Foltz's proposal to cash in city investments to finance water plant improvements.

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Press Coverage of Water-Rate Increase Issue:
bullet Letter to the Editor
bullet February 5, 2002
bullet February 20, 2002
bullet February 26, 2002
bullet March 26, 2002

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