Rochester Hills residents can expect an increase in water and sewer rates beginning this July of about 2.4 percent, or an increase of about $3.38 on the average bill, under a water and sewer ordinance amendment introduced on Monday, May 15.
City council unanimously approved the first reading of the ordinance amendment to change the rate structure for the utilities. A final reading is expected prior to July.
Rochester Hills Chief Financial Officer Joe Snyder said the city's water and sewer technical review committee met and discussed several rate scenarios for water and sewer rates based on recent rate changes by the North Oakland County Water Authority (NOCWA), under the Great Lakes Water Authority's rate changes for water and the Oakland County Water Resources Commission's (WRC) increase in sewer rates.
The increases from NOCWA equated to about four percent, while the sewer increases from WRC was about 6.7 percent. The rate schedule also includes a decrease of about 7.7 percent in the customer charge, which includes the cost of servicing customers, meter replacement, billing and collection, meter reading, postage and other services.
"On average, for the average resident who uses about 12 units per bill, they would see their bill increase approximately 2.4 percent, bottom line total," Snyder said. "The water charge increase we are receiving from NOCWA is going to be about four percent and the sewer increase from the Oakland County Water Resource Commission is right about 6.7 percent, so the fact that we are rolling out a 2.4-percent increase to our customers, I think, shows good value."
Snyder said helping to soften the increase is a 13.5-percent increase in water sales from 2015 to 2016, which was due to a hot, dry summer. Those sales included a 65-percent increase in outside watering.
"That helps us to take a portion of those gains and use them over the next four years to offset future increases," he said.
Additionally, he said city council's decision in April to prepay an assessment from the WRC saves the city about $300,000 a year. That, as well as savings from being part of NOCWA – which allows the city to obtain lower water rates from the Great Lakes Water Authority by pooling with other municipalities – provides the average customer a savings of about $43 per year on their water bills.
Council inquired about other possible rate schedules, including the possibility of deferring an increase. However, Snyder said deferring the increase would lead to larger increases in the subsequent three years. Another option to provide a slight decrease in the first year of increases from NOCWA and the WRC would also increase rates more in the long run, he said....continued on page 2