your budget changes now
Lincoln sewer rates expected to increase Nov. 1
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[October 09, 2008]
Last month city officials began
an overhaul of the sewer billing system. Their goal: to pay for the
present, keep up with increasing costs and needs, and prepare for
the future. The city needs to recover $2.9 million from users to pay
debt service for upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant and
Most of the council attended the committee sessions when sewer
manager Dave Kitzmiller provided a detailed overview. Kitzmiller,
with the assistance of city clerk Melanie Riggs, had prepared flow
charts and analyses that included current billing figures, debt
service costs, operation costs and future needs for the sewer
After hours of work, the committee was ready with proposed new rates
this week. But when the proposal was brought to the table on Monday
evening, it was agreed that with so many council members absent,
including Mayor Beth Davis-Kavelman, it should be tabled.
The measure is now slated for the next voting session, on Oct.
20, and if passed, new rates would go into effect on Nov. 1.
But for those who want to budget for the increase, it is simple
to know what to expect. Anyone getting a sewer bill from the city of
Lincoln can plan ahead by adding 20 percent to their current bill.
Sewer use billing falls into four categories: residential,
commercial, institutional and industrial service.
Residential sewer service
Residential billing is simpler than other categories. The city
does not receive copies of the residential water bills. Residential
users are billed at a flat rate, whether there is one person or more
in a household.
Residential bills would go to a flat rate of $20 per month, which
is close to a 20 percent increase at this time. A dollar would be
added every other year. This would be an approximate 5 percent
increase every other year. The flat $1 addition every other year
changes the percentage rate each year, but the rates would stay
close to a 2.5 percent increase per year.
Commercial, institutional and industrial sewer service
Across the board, these other billing categories would also have
a 20 percent increase. Future increases would be the same percentage
as the residential and would be added every other year.
In addition to their monthly rate, these users are monitored for
usage and contaminants. There are three areas where they might incur
An industrial user is any nonresidential user with high-strength
waste, Kitzmiller said. The wastewater is tested regularly to
measure for the effects of contaminants on biochemical oxygen demand
and for suspended solids.
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The current industrial recovery surcharge rates are 51 cents for
biochemical oxygen demand over 200 milligrams per liter, and 30
cents for suspended solids over 240 milligrams per liter. The city
has two users that are billed for biochemical oxygen demand and
here for a full description of why and how biochemical oxygen
demand is measured.)
Additionally, large users may also be monitored and charged for
high use. Water bills are used to assess flow and usage. If there
would be water use over 3,300 cubic feet (an equivalent of 25,000
gallons) on a specific day, a flow charge would be added. This fee
could amount to between $1,000 and $6,000 a year on any one
industrial user, Kitzmiller said. There are four industrial users on
the system now.
In a rough estimate, the new rates would yield an additional
$273,000 from residential, $127,000 from industrial and
institutional, and $55,000 from commercial per year (for the
next two years), Kitzmiller said.
The city clerk's office explained that billing cycles vary for
each of the categories. Residential bills go out every four months.
Commercial bills are sent out every two months. Industrial and
institution bills are on a monthly cycle.
There is one exception to the residential bills. Centennial
Courts and the Logan County Housing Authority prefer to be billed
monthly. This is because of the sheer numbers involved. Each
apartment gets a separate bill.
A $25 penalty is added to any past-due bills.
A four-month $80 residential bill would become $105. A good
suggestion is to put your due date on your calendar because you are
responsible to pay your bill on time, even if it would get lost in
the mail sometime.
[By JAN YOUNGQUIST]