published Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Cleveland Utilities increasing sewer rate by 5 percent beginning in July

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Cleveland Utilities’ sewer rate will go up by 5 percent this July as part of a long-term program to protect the environment from wastewater overflows.

The Cleveland City Council voted 7-0 this week to approve the requested increase now instead of waiting until later in the city’s budgetary process. Acting now instead of later, utility officials said, could mean a savings of $451,022.

The rate increase will let Cleveland Utilities take advantage of a $10 million state loan package that includes $451,022 in loan forgiveness, said Ken Webb, vice president of the utility’s financial division.

“That’s essentially a $451,000 grant,” he said.

A requirement of the loan package, the 5 percent increase will affect the average residential customer by a few dollars. The average monthly bill of $26.41 would increase to $27.73, utility officials said.

The state requirement to increase sewer rates by 5 percent comes behind Cleveland Utilities’ existing plans to increase sewer rates by 4.5 percent for the next five years.

The environmental program the increase will fund is intended to prevent sewage overflows through a comprehensive program to repair the aging wastewater infrastructure, said Tom Wheeler, president of Cleveland Utilities.

If Cleveland Utilities fails to implement a successful environmentally sound program, it could face mandatory rate hikes by order of the Environmental Protection Agency.

For complete details, see tomorrow’s Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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