The Hornell Water Department has increased its rates and fees.
The Hornell Common Council voted 9-1 on Monday to increase water and sewer rates by 20% in order to bridge the department’s revenue gap.
Mayor John Buckley said the city’s water fund balance was in the red by $147,000 at the end of 2021.
Increased rates and fees now in effect
The Council also voted to raise the water surcharge from $10 to $15 per year, and increase the Chesapeake Bay Watershed free from $5 to $25 per year, according to The Evening Tribune.
Hornell’s water rates remained the same for over 10 years prior to the Council’s decision, which took effect on July 18.
Lenny Fucci, chief operator of the filtration plant, said costs have only gone up, while revenue has stayed flat. His budget has only increased by $172,000 since the city’s last rate hike.
Inflation and debt made rate hikes necessary, says Council
Councilors concluded the current rates were not sustainable due to a few factors, like inflation and debt incurred from the $6.9 million project to upgrade the city’s Water Filtration Plant. Hornell received a $3 million grant to offset the project cost but borrowed the other $3.87 million. Loan payments begin this year.
Hornell is also planning improvements to its Water Pollution Control Plant, which will increase the debt owed by the city.
“Comparatively speaking, we’re still a lot more affordable than most communities,” said Buckley. “We’re talking about a long-term investment in our community, in our water system, something that we all use throughout the day without really thinking twice about it.”
The rate hikes will be an adjustment for those whose water bills stayed the same for the past 15 years, acknowledged Buckley.