The rates paid by Meadville Area Sewer Authority customers will be going up for 2022 while Meadville Area Water Authority rates will remain the same.

The typical residential sewer customer will pay nearly $40 more each year under the new rates.

Sewer authority board members last week voted 4-0 to approve a $5 million budget for next year. The budget brings with it rate increases that will drive up the typical residential customer’s bill by 6.1 percent or about $3.24 per month. Board member Rachel O’Brien was absent from the meeting.

Water authority board members last week voted 4-0 to approve a 2022 budget that comes with no rate increase. The budget projects operating expenses of $2.7 million and capital expenditures of $485,000 with revenues of $3.3 million and a net income of nearly $660,000. Board member Mark Gildea was absent for the meeting.

The sewer rate increase comes one year after the authority hiked rates by 2 percent, resulting in an annual increase of about $11.

The sewer authority rate increase for 2022 affects all customers, though the precise rate varies slightly according to the size of the meter used by the customer. The increase affects both the base rate and the consumption charge. The consumption charge is determined by the amount of water used by the customer each month, and the water authority acts as billing agent for the sewer authority.

Typical MASA residential customers will see their base rate go up from $19.06 per month to $20.44 per month. The consumption rate, which was $5.64 per unit of water used each month, will increase to $5.95 per unit of water used each month.

Water consumption is measured in units of 100 cubic feet, which are equivalent to approximately 750 gallons of water. For sewer customers in West Mead Township who do not have metered water service, water consumption is billed a flat rate based on the “average” water usage of metered customers. The flat rate will increase from $50.08 to $53.17 per month, a 6.17 percent hike.

The sewer authority projected expenses of $4.73 million for its 2021 budget and expects to actually spend $4.57 million. Significant increases in the 2022 budget include wages, benefits and sludge hauling. Net income for 2022 was projected to be $150,000, down from an expected net income of $332,000 this year.

2022 will mark the second year in a row that water authority customers do not see their rates go up.

Project Manager Bob Harrington said that the main factor behind the no-rate-increase budget was pandemic-related delays for several MAWA projects planned for this year. Costs spiked dramatically at the beginning of the year, leading to delays, but when costs stabilized, supply issues and staffing shortfalls held up work, according to Harrington.

As a result, funds that had been budgeted for 2021 had not been spent and would instead be spent next year. Harrington pointed specifically to the replacement of water mains on Linden Street, part of the authority’s three-year $3 million water system improvement project. The $253,000 project is now expected to begin in early 2022. 

Mike Crowley can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at mcrowley@meadvilletribune.com.

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