With stable sewer charges, officials say utility bills will rise as little as 14%
Village of Fredonia officials have received word from the state Public Service Commission that a 47% water rate hike has been approved.
The new rate schedule will be effective June 30.
The rate increase was the subject of a hearing on April 22.
Nobody spoke against the increase at the hearing, although two e-mails were submitted challenging the increase.
One of those objections came from Guy & O’Neill, one of the cornerstones of the village’s business park and the community’s largest water user.
According to calculations provided by the village, had the increase been in place for the company’s last quarterly bill, the payment due would have risen from $8,693 to $11,361.
“Guy & O’Neill uses a significant amount of water in manufacturing wet wipes, so this increase has a significant impact on our business,” wrote Brian Glynn, the company’s chief financial officer.
“It directly impacts our bottom line and diminishes our competitive advantage and ability to continue to grow in Fredonia. The percentage increase that is being requested is significantly ahead of inflation and should be further justified with material facts.”
Pheasant Lane resident Jennifer Schmidt said she felt the village’s rate increase request “is both necessary and reasonable,” but asked that the impact be phased in over an extended time to lessen the financial impact on residents.
“I am concerned that raising the water rates will create financial hardships for many of the Village of Fredonia families,” Schmidt wrote, noting the community’s median income is $29,150 per person.
“I personally believe that a sudden increase in a water bill is way too drastic for many village residents to effectively manage,” she said.
In asking for the rate increase, village officials noted that the PSC was last asked for a full rate review in 1983.
Smaller, inflation-related increases of less than 3% were put into effect in 1997, 2000, 2005, 2008, 2010, 2013 and 2014.
One of the improvements the village recently made to the water system was the replacement of aging mains in Fredonia Avenue, at a cost of $144,000.
Even with the new rates, village officials said the cost of water is still the 48th lowest among the state’s 358 municipal water utilities.
Because the sewer rate remains unchanged, the hike means the overall utility bill will rise between 14% and 18%.