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Village Council— Electric rate hike to start July 1

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Starting July 1, villagers are likely to see an increase in their electric bills, following Village Council’s unanimous vote at its April 4 meeting to amend the Village electric rate structure.

Council’s vote on Monday was the first reading of the ordinance. The second, and final, reading is scheduled to take place at its April 18 regular meeting.

The electric rate increase is the Village’s first in almost 30 years, Council members said before voting, noting that the last increase took place in 1988. And while the electric fund has a surplus of more than $2 million, an increase is necessary because expenses have surpassed revenues in recent years.

“While the electric fund is healthy, we’ve seen expenses eat into our reserves for the past three or four years,” Council President Karen Wintrow stated.

The rate hike follows the recommendations of consultant John Courtney of Courtney and Associates, who presented his recommendation for an increase to Council in February.

Overall, Village electric users will see an increase of about 9 percent, with residential customers seeing an increase of 12.7 percent in their bills. A residential customer who uses 500 kilowatt hours monthly, an average household amount, will see the current monthly charge of $59.58 rise to $67.33, an increase of about $8 monthly or about $96 per year.

The residential increase includes a customer service charge hike from $10 monthly to $15, with a $1 yearly increase over the next five years.

A small commercial customer using about 1,000 kilowatt hours monthly will see the average monthly bill of $121.15 rise to $134.65, an increase of about $13 per month.

Some large power users have been paying more than their fair share, and could see a slight decrease in their bills, Courtney said. For instance, a customer using 75,000 kilowatt hours monthly would see a bill of about $7,719  drop to $7,706, a drop of about $136 per year.

During Council discussion, Wintrow expressed concern that Council is moving too fast in instituting the electric rate hikes, given recent rate increases in water and sewer. Beginning this year, Village customers are seeing an water rate increase of about 30 percent yearly for three years, to an almost 100 percent hike, and sewer rate increases of 15 percent yearly for four years, to a 60 percent hike.

“These changes will impact people,” she said.

However, Council member Gerry Simms stated that as a retiree on a fixed income, he would rather have the increases sooner rather than later, so that he understands the total impact of utility increases on his budget. And Village Manager Patti Bates reminded Council members that the electric rate increases were figured into the 2016 Village budget.

In the end, Council agreed to delay the increase by a month, to give villagers some time to see how the other Village rate hikes are affecting them. The electric rate hikes will go into effect on July 1.

In other Council April 4 business:

• Council went into executive session following its regular meeting to discuss potential litigation.

• Council members raised questions they hope to see addressed in an upcoming work session with SpringsNet, regarding the possibility of the Village creating a municipal fiber optic system as a new utility. SpringsNet member Tim Barhorst said the group is ready to field questions, and hopes to move ahead with the project soon. A date for the work session, which will likely take place in May or June, has not yet been set.

• Council continued discussion on a Criminal Justice System Task Force, proposed by Judith Hempfling and Marianne MacQueen. The topic will return to Council with a timeline for seating the group and a resolution for creating it.

• Matt Reed of the Village Planning Commission gave that group’s annual report. The group has seen heightened activity that reflects zoning code changes made in 2013 in an attempt to make the Village zoning code more flexible. Villagers are taking the opportunity to create more accessory dwellings and more home businesses, he said.

• Council discussed the possibility of creating a new advisory group to oversee beaver management on the Glass Farm wetlands project.

• Council passed first readings of several ordinances designed to clean up inconsistencies in the zoning code update.

• In her report, Manager Bates said that construction should begin soon on the downtown streetscape project, which is slated to begin mid or late April. The project aims to upgrade sidewalks and street lights on the west side of Xenia Avenue, to complete the project begun on the other side of the street two years ago. The construction will take place in segments so as to disrupt downtown business as little as possible, Bates said.

• Council passed a resolution that authorizes Bates to issue a request for qualifications for an information technology services provider for Village government. Bruce Cornett of Servelet is no longer performing that job for the Village, she said.

Council’s next regular meeting takes place on Monday, April 18, at 7 p.m.

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One Response to “Village Council— Electric rate hike to start July 1”

  1. Stephanie Kaelin says:

    So about a 9% increase, my bill and my friends and neighbor’s have doubled; this is extortion

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