Alcosan rates to jump 17 percent next year, keep rising
Water bills in many Allegheny County communities could jump by almost 60 percent over the next four years as the county's sewer authority begins a multibillion-dollar, federally mandated construction project.
The Allegheny County Sanitary Authority board of directors voted on Thursday to boost service rates by 17 percent in 2014 and by 11 percent each year in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
Alcosan's ratepayers next year will pay $5.05 per 1,000 gallons of water used, up from $4.32 per 1,000 gallons, and a quarterly service charge of $10.61, up from $9.07 per quarter.
A homeowner who uses 15,000 gallons per quarter would have an increase in 2014 of $4.19 a month, or $50.28 a year.
The authority expects next year's rate increase to generate $8.5 million in revenue, spokeswoman Nancy Barylak said.
By 2017, ratepayers will pay $6.90 per 1,000 gallons used. A homeowner using 15,000 gallons a quarter in 2017 would pay about $472 that year, a 60 percent increase over the current rates.
“I could swear, but I won't. It's ridiculous,” said John Arnold, 81, of North Versailles.
Arnold lives on a fixed income and said the progressive rate increases will be a problem. He blamed the federal government for forcing Alcosan to increase rates.
A rate increase was expected as Alcosan plans to spend $2.8 billion over the next 20 years to comply with a federal mandate — known as a consent decree — to reduce raw sewage flowing into rivers.
“Unfortunately, it is what we had to do,” said Alcosan board Chairman Harry Readshaw, a Democratic state representative from Carrick.
Readshaw and Allegheny County Treasurer John Weinstein, also a board member, abstained from the vote. Both wanted the authority to set a rate increase for only 2014 and decide on later rate increases on an annual basis. Board members Sylvia Wilson, Joseph White and Jack Shea, who participated via phone, voted for the increases.
Donna Sproul, owner of Bunny's Laundry in Blawnox, felt powerless about the rate increases. She is not sure how she will pay her new bill, which nears $800 every three months. In her 15 years of owning the laundry, she has weathered several rate hikes.
“You don't know what you can do about it,” Sproul said. “If they're going to do it, they're going to do it.”
The authority last raised rates for 2012, upping the cost per 1,000 gallons of water used and the quarterly service charge by 7 percent.
The increase is needed to finance about $70 million in bonds for numerous capital improvements, Barylak said. Those projects include sewer interceptor tunnel cleaning, upgrades to Alcosan's main pump station and plant to handle increased volume and other improvements, including those to the authority's biosolids recycling plant and Squaw Run Pump Station, according to the authority.
“Throughout the year, we challenge each department to reduce costs,” Alcosan Executive Director Arletta Scott Williams said in a statement. “However, we have said time and again that rate increases to fund federally mandated projects contained in the consent decree to address sewer overflows would be needed. This structure will assist everyone in future planning as opposed to waiting to change from year to year.”
Aaron Aupperlee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7986 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- DUI checkpoints take on dangerous drivers
- Roundup: Mazda recalls cars to fix tire pressure monitors; Wal-Mart’s top merchant out as key holiday nears; more
- Steelers’ lookahead: New Orleans Saints
- Cancer didn’t stop mother from living for her son
- No. 15 San Diego State hammers Pitt, 74-57
- Lower gasoline prices fail to spur consumer spending
- Penguins notebook: Bennett status remains fluid
- Steelers cornerback Taylor ready to swap earpiece for helmet
- Grease in Youngwood sewer system prompts another look at rule
- U.S. Steel Tower tenants stand to benefit from company’s relocation
- FDA rule to require chain restaurants to post calorie counts