A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Judges executive approve SD1 2018 fiscal year budget; includes 5 percent increase in sanitary sewer

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By Mark Hansel
NKyTribune managing editor

The region’s judges executive have voted unanimously to approve the Northern Kentucky Sanitation District No. 1 (SD1) budget for fiscal 2018.

SD 1 Executive Director Adam Chaney (center) listens to feedback from the region’s judges-executive regarding the utility’s Fiscal 2018 budget. The budget, which includes a 5 percent increase in sanitary sewer fees, was approved unanimously (photos by Mark Hansel)

Judges executive Gary Moore of Boone County, Steve Pendery of Campbell County and Kris Knochelmann of Kenton County voted in favor of the budget, which includes a 5 percent increase in sanitary sewer service fees, at today’s meeting at the SD1 office in Fort Wright.

Residential customers will see an average monthly increase of $2.16, or $0.36 per hundred cubic feet (HCF) of water usage, on their SD1 bills for sanitary sewer service. The average customer would see the bill increase from $44.22 to $46.38 per month.

SD1 executive director Adam Chaney said the utility’s staff met with representatives from the judges executives’ offices in four meetings prior to presenting the budget for approval.

“Our budget remains pretty much equal to last year’s budget, except we are adding $300,000 for our backup assistance program…for flood-prone homes in the river cities and other areas,” Chaney said. “Our rates this year are consistent with our consent decree negotiations with the Federal and the State EPA.”

Stormwater fees will not be increased.

A sewer rate survey from February 2017 compares SD1 rates to those of other utilities (provided). Click to enlarge

The Environmental Protection Agency requires certain upgrades in areas where failure to provide the improvements is, or could be, harmful to the environment and the health of the community.

The burden of cost for the upgrades is the responsibility of SD1 and failure to comply with the decrees would result in fines that do not relieve the utility of its obligation to complete the improvements.

The 5 percent increase will not result in a comparable increase in revenue. As consumers have become more focused on conservation and appliances, such as dishwashers and toilets, increasingly more efficient, consumption has declined.

As a result, the 5 percent increase will only generate an additional 3.5 percent in revenue.

“We are always fighting that battle,” Chaney said. “We will need to, at some point in time, and I would like to do this next year, institute a fixed charge to stop that decline. If you flush your toilet once, or 20 times a day, we still have to operate our wastewater facilities and those come with a fixed charge.”

Chaney provided a rate chart survey from February that shows the amount SD1 customers pay, compared to consumers in other regions.

On the low end, consumers in Dayton, Ohio pay slightly less than $25 per month, compared to customers in Atlanta, who pay more than $75 per month. SD1 rates rank ninth in the chart of 16 utilities and are comparable to Louisville and Nashville and lower than Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Cleveland.

Moore said the chart is a useful tool when trying to attract businesses to the region.

“On economic development projects, on the large users, when we’re recruiting companies, this comes into play – that we’re competitive with our peer regions and others,” Moore said. “It’s also good to demonstrate to our residents that the increases we’ve seen here are because of federal policies, state Policies, EPA requirements, to continue to do more with less. That has forced rates up across the country.”

The rate adjustment will be reflected on customer bills beginning in August 2017.

Contact Mark Hansel at mark.hansel@nkytrib.com

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