Athens City Council approves increases to sewer rates and amends a parking rate hike ordinance

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — Athens residents will see a 3% annual increase on their sewer bill through 2040. 

That’s what Athens City Council approved with a 6-1 vote at Monday’s meeting.

The ordinance amends current rates for residential buildings from $5.89 to $6.00. For commercial buildings, rates will increase from $6.66 to $6.79. Rates for industrial buildings will see an increase from $7.34 to $7.49.

City Treasurer Josh Thomas said the annual increases are meant to be consistent so residents are not taken by surprise and to keep up with the city’s sewer budget.

“If you don’t want to hit your residents with higher increases later, the steady increases are the way to go and keep your balance healthy,” he said.

Councilmember Alan Swank was the only no vote, saying as a member running for reelection, he “doesn’t feel comfortable” with the measure.

“We have an election tomorrow, and even though not one of us sitting up here has an opponent, there are two very important issues on the ballot, both of them money issues,” he said. “Depending on the value of your property,… if both of these pass, there will be an increase.”

Swank said with a school bond levy and county EMS levy on the ballot, he would not want to try and justify voting yes on this issue if he faced opposition.

Councilmember Samuel Crowl said he is comfortable with the increase because it would help the city “fix any problems” and manage its wastewater treatment plant and the expansion of the water system further into the county.

Athens City Hall is seen in Athens, Ohio, on Tuesday, June 22, 2021. [Joseph Scheller | WOUB]
Athens City Hall is seen in Athens, Ohio, on Tuesday, June 22, 2021. [Joseph Scheller | WOUB]
Athens City Council also voted 6-1 to amend an ordinance raising parking rates.

Council President Chris Knisely said the Council needed to amend the ordinance because “the math was off.”

The change now says parking rates in high-intensity zones will cost $1.25 per hour ($0.25 per 10 minutes). In medium-intensity zones, parking will cost $1.00 per hour ($0.25 per 15 minutes). For low-intensity zones, the ordinance now says parking will cost $0.75 per hour ($0.25 per 20 minutes).

Single-space short-term parking spots will see parking costs rise to $0.75 per 20 minutes ($0.40 per 10 minutes).

As for the city’s parking garage, the ordinance would raise rates to $1.00 per hour.

Councilmember Solveig Spjeldnes voted against amending the ordinance. 

The amended ordinance will be up for first reading at the next City Council meeting on Nov. 20.