Water Industry News

Pittsburgh suburb water rates to rise 22% in 2006 

November 20, 2005
By Karen Kane, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A water rate increase of 22 percent will translate to about $10 more per quarter for the average homeowner in Cranberry, according to township officials. Cranberry residents now pay about $45 a quarter or about $11 a month.

"We don't ever want to raise rates... [but] I think 22 percent sounds worse than what it is,'' said township Manager Jerry Andree last week, after he unveiled the water and sewer portion of the draft 2006 budget that comes up for a vote on Tuesday.

Sewer rates will hold steady, despite a dip in revenues due to changes in the state formula for calculating sewer tap-in fees and the loss of a state grant for sewer plant operations.

Also unchanged for the coming year are tax rates and recreational fees for swimming and golfing.

Cranberry just couldn't stave off a water rate increase, though, said Mr. Andree, explaining the township buys its water from the Municipal Authority of the Borough of West View and can't absorb West View's recent boost in prices.

Mr. Andree said the price increase from the Water Authority will cost Cranberry about $400,000 more for its water purchases in 2006, and that's on top of a 2001 price increase that had boosted the annual purchase price by $200,000. At the same time, Cranberry hasn't increased sewer or water rates since 1997.

The new water rate will be $3.85 per thousand gallons of water used, up from $3.15. The sewer rate is $5.17 per thousand gallons of water used.

The water rate increase will generate $500,000 annually.

Two new features of the sewer and water budget for 2006 are the purchase of equipment to help with odor control at the Brush Creek treatment plant and hiring a new administrative staffer to help enforce pretreatment regulations for businesses that generate oils and greases.

The total water budget is $3.95 million for 2006, compared to $3.41 million for 2005. The sewer budget is $4.92 million for 2006 compared to $5.2 million for 2005.

Assistant Township Manager Dan Santoro said the decreased revenue in the sewer budget was offset by "squeezing across all programs."

The township will begin 2006 with about $4.45 million in the sewer and water capital fund. Mr. Andree said he will ask supervisors for guidance in the first quarter about spending priorities for the year. Supervisors already have committed $752,000 to help purchase odor control equipment.