Thursday, September 28, 2000

Clermont water, sewer bills cut


Privatization means cheaper rates starting Oct. 1

By Tom O'Neill
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        BATAVIA — Water and sewer service got cheaper in Clermont County on Wednesday.

        When Clermont County officials privatized operation of the water district in March, they told residents the decision would save the county $3 million annually.

        County commissioners Wednesday approved a 5 percent cut in water rates and an 8.5 percent cut in sewer rates.

        The cuts, which apply to all 35,000 customers who have both services, will save the average customer $6.26 on each bimonthly bill. The average customer uses 12,400 gallons of water per bill.

        In a somewhat controversial decision, the county contracted out the operation and billing of the Clermont County Sewer District to Earth Tech and OMI Inc.

        The thinking was private firms would be more cost-efficient, and that because the county still owned the district, it could ensure quality.

        Commissioners have sought to improve services and lower costs through managed competition in many areas now provided by the county.

        Last year the county considered, but then backed off of, a plan to privatize police and fire dispatch services.

        A 1994 study revealed the need for major capital im provements in the sewer district.

        “A reduction of rates can be achieved, yet still allow for the funds necessary for future capital projects,” Commissioner Robert Proud said Wednesday.

        The new rates are effective with bills issued after Oct. 1.

        The last rate increase was seven years ago.

       



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