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Cincy water rate decision delayed...again

A Cincinnati council committee is again delaying a decision on whether residents will see their water bills increase.

Council is considering three options: a 7.5 or 4 percent increase, or no rate hike at all.

Water Works Director Tony Parrott said no rate increase will cripple efforts to replace aging parts of the distribution system. The goal is one percent per year.

"We have been at or below that one percent, and going forward with a zero percent rate increase it's going to be unlikely that we're going to be able to maintain that one percent replacement of the distribution system," Parrott said.

Only 8 capital projects would be completed in the next fiscal year with no rate increase. The 4 percent hike would allow 21 projects to move forward. The water works wants the 7.5 percent increase.

Council Member Kevin Flynn said water works needs to review its expenditures.

"I'm sympathetic to our constituents that see us continually having increases that far exceed the rate of inflation for example," Flynn said.  "There has to be a balance there."

Council Member Yvette Simpson said she worries about what happens in the future without the water work's requested increase this year.

"I'm not prepared to go down to 4 percent just to have to go to 11 percent next year," Simpson said.  "I don't think that's a smart thing to do, and I think we'll be right back here next year at 11 percent trying to delay and delay again."

But some Council members are balking because of yearly water rate hikes since 2005.

The issue could be settled during a special budget and finance meeting next week, or during a regular session in two weeks.