The Village Board on Monday approved a 12 percent increase in the sewer rate that will take effect Jan. 1.
Mayor Richard Soluri said the increase is the first since 2002. He said the rate will increase to $3.35 from $2.99 per cubic foot, a 36-cent increase, which will cost the average homeowner $30 a year. The increase was needed to fill a projected $16,000 shortfall in the village's sewer budget, he said.
Timothy Lockhart, director of the Water Pollution Control Center, said each municipality that is part of the Tri-Community Sewer District is responsible for setting its own rate. The Town of Lewiston, Town of Porter and Village of Youngstown also use the facility on Pletcher Road.
"Energy and personnel costs are driving up costs for everyone," said Lockhart.
Lockhart met with the board before the regular meeting to outline plans to increase sewer hookup costs for new construction in the member communities.
He said the new charge, which had been proposed to start Jan. 1, would help support the construction and upgrades of the plant that current sewer users have been paying for many years.
"We are trying to level the playing field," said Lockhart. Under the proposal, new homes would see at least a $150 charge for a one-bedroom home or up to $550 for a five-bedroom home; new hair salons would pay $170 per station; new restaurants could pay from $20 to $70 per seat based on location and type of service; and hotels could pay $120 per room.
Noted was the new Niagara at Barton Hill hotel currently under construction on First Street, which has 80 rooms and could have been charged a fee of nearly $10,000.
Lockhart said the new hotel is exempt because the hotel has already received a building permit.
Trustees asked Lockhart to consider several modifications, including lowering fees; giving a one-year notice period and consider allowing current residents who build a new home to be exempt from the fee.
Trustees agreed that some type of fee system would have to be considered unless another revenue source could be found.