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Government and Politics

Akron council to vote on sewer rate hike
Rates tied to federal guideline of 2 percent of average median household income in a city.

Mark Urycki
Mayor Plusquellic says rejecting the rate hike could lead to a bigger one later -- and more federal control.
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In The Region:
UPDATE: Council voted 8-5 last night to boost the rates by about two-thirds over the next two years.

Akron City Council is expected to vote this evening on a proposal to raise sewer rates by 69 percent over the next two years. The hike is meant to pay for the city’s project to prevent raw sewage from being spilled into the Cuyahoga River. City officials say if don't they raise rates now, the increases will only be higher later.
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Akron is dealing with a federal consent decree that requires it to cap almost three dozen combined sewer overflows at a cost that could hit $1.4 billion. City officials are trying a new plan the federal EPA is offering that could lower the costs and spread out construction over a longer period of time.

Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic says EPA guidelines set the rate formula but if council rejects it, Federal Judge John Adams could force the city to go back to the more expensive project.

“You’re going to have council members stand up, pontificate and argue and say, 'I took on the mayor and I took on this.' But the alternative, if this ordinance is turned down, is we fall right back under the control of the federal judge who, in my opinion, does not care one bit about what it costs the ratepayers.”

Under the proposal, an average Akron household would see rates monthly jump from $34 to $59 over two years. But city officials say the increases might be twice that size later if council rejects it now.

Suburban customers would pay about 12 percent more. If council approves, the new rates would start immediately and show up in next month’s bill. 

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