GREENVILLE — Debate will continue as Greenville City Council tabled a rate increase on water and sewer services during council’s meeting Tuesday night.
The proposed ordinance calls for water rates to increase 50 percent effective May 1, 2021, and an additional 18 percent Nov. 1, 2021. Sewer rates would increase 25 percent May 1, and 10 percent more on Nov. 1. The legislation would also have the city switch to monthly utilities billing, effective May 1. The ordinance has now received three readings.
During the public speaking portion of the meeting, members of the community addressed council regarding the proposed rate hikes.
Greenville resident Daniel Eichelberger voiced his concerns with proposed increases, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, though he said he was not opposed to addressing the infrastructure needs.
“Any major increase in utility rates are going to negatively impact myself, my elderly in-laws that live within the city, a number of my friends,” he said. “Please consider there’s a lot of people still suffering through no fault of their own.”
Connie Smith, who owns rental property within the city limits, told council the proposed utility increases will cause difficulties not only for Greenville residents, but also for landlords.
“If that water [rate] goes up, that’s going to make it very difficult for me financially, because I can’t just go in and raise their rent because I have a binding contract with them,” she said.
Jan Clay, a renter in Greenville, also expressed his worries about the rate increases.
“If the rates go up, you’re going to drive people like me out of the city, out of the community. I’m not sure how that’s going to benefit the community as a whole,” he said.
Mayor Steve Willman, who said he sympathizes with residents facing rate increases, nonetheless said the hikes were necessary.
“Our water rates are at a place where we are barely operating without a major problem,” he said. “If we have a major water line break, that type of thing, we could run into some serious problems, where we could run out of money to fix those problems.”
When the ordinance was brought up for a vote, Councilman Clarence Godwin motioned to table the ordinance, and council approved the motion by a vote of 4 to 2. The ordinance will be considered again under old business at council’s next meeting, March 16.
Tuesday’s meeting also saw Councilwoman Delores Ely, representing the city’s 2nd Ward, seated on council. Ely was selected to fill the remaining term of the late Councilwoman Dori Howdieshell, who passed away in January.
Greenville City Council meets the first and third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. Due to COVID-19 precautions, meetings are currently being conducted via ZOOM. The public is invited to view these meetings live or the following day on the City of Greenville Ohio YouTube channel.