Escalating rate increases for customers of the Williamsport Municipal Water and Sanitary Authorities have ended, at least for next year's sewer and water bill payments.
They ended Wednesday after the authorities met and decided to keep the same rate for water and sewer with no increase authority customers in January. No vote was necessary because it was a transfer.
"There's no increase in metered and flat rates for water and sewer consumption in 2013," said Douglas Keith, authority executive director.
A typical household using 52,000 gallons a year pays $808 annually. The rate is $4.95 per thousand gallons bills for water and $10.60 per thousand gallons billed for sewer. The rate is $62.50 per month per unit for the Woodward Township rate district.
"The rate structure will provide both authorities with the revenues needed to fund operating and administrative costs," Keith said. It will also pay for the principal and interest payments on outstanding debt, he added.
Remaining funds, together with proceeds from recent loans and bonds issues, will be used by the authorities to fund the current and future projects.
The rate increases over the past five years helped to fund about $125 million upgrades to wastewater treatment plants.
Those improvements were mandated by the state Department of Environmental Protection and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reduce nutrients from entering the Chesapeake Bay watershed and reduce combined sewer overflows.
In other business, the authority finance committee said it will review a request by Mim Logue, a DuBoistown resident who owns up to 60 apartment/rental units in the city. She claims landlords need relief from the authority collection policy, especially when tenants skip out without paying water bills.
The bills, she said, are the responsibility of the tenant, not the landlords and when a tenant leaves without paying and relocates within the city, she believes that is wrong.
The authority doesn't collect for up to five months, Keith said. "We give three months, plus 30 days to pay before assessing a late fee and some more time afterward," he said.
Logue said during that time a lot of water use and expense is incurred by landlords and that liens and judgments are placed on properties.
William E. Nichols Sr., authority president, said the authority collects at a high percent rate in order to protect other ratepayers who would have to make up the difference.
Nichols added the authority collects in order to pay for a water system that is more than 100 years old, with new water line replacements and costly resolutions to problems to maintain the system.
"We're listening," said Greg Zeitler, authority board member, to Logue. "It's not something to move on arbitrarily and is a decision that needs to protect all of the users by not having outstanding collections. Our primary responsibility is to the rate-payers."
The authority indicated it would try to get Logue a response by next month.