The Syracuse Town Council will be considering two rate ordinances at their next meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19, at the town hall. The ordinances have to do with the raising of the monthly water and sewer rates. To help explain the reasoning, current information needs to be shared.
First, the water utility rates have not been raised since approximately 2005. The sewage rates were last raised in 2018. As part of that increase there was also a 1.5% annual increase added in. As we are all aware the cost of doing business has increased significantly in the last couple of years which is putting significant pressure on the town’s revenues. Also, the town has a very old infrastructure system in place and pipes and pumps and water towers are wearing out. Some of these pipes have been underground for over 100 years and are made of clay and other various materials that are failing and will continue to fail causing expensive repairs.
The town commissioned a study of the water system this year and it was determined that the water systems need to have approximately $10.5 million in improvements in the next 5-10 years. The cost of these improvements can potentially be somewhat mitigated through grants, but they are never guaranteed. As such we must make appropriate adjustments and preparations in the town’s cash position to pay for these improvements.
The town currently carries approximately $7 million in BONDS tied to the utilities paying for previous improvements.
The town hired the services of LWG CPAs & Advisors to do a rate study this year and it was determined the rates needed to be raised to cover ongoing and future improvements. Many of these improvements are mandated such as lead and copper pipe removal, and wastewater treatment, so the town must comply regardless of the cost.
The rate study findings brought to the town are summarized below. The intent is that the sewer rates will allow for improvements to be paid in cash and no new debt will be required. The water rates are intended to cover future debt service payments as the cost of the projects make cash flowing them unrealistic, and therefore debt will need to be incurred.
Sewage: Proposed monthy charge for 3,000 gallons $52.70 vs. the current monthly charge for 3,000 gallons, $37.07. The increase is $15.63
Water: Proposed month charge for 3,000 gallons $22.93 vs. the current monthl charge for 3,000 gallons, $18.90. The increase is $4.03.
We are fully aware of how this may impact our residents and we are doing everything we can to control the costs of these improvements, but we must make them. These improvements are intended to maintain and improve our current systems and prepare for the future growth of the Town.
Please feel free to attend the meeting on Sept. 19.
Syracuse Town Manager