Tipp Council OKs water rate study

TIPP CITY — Discussion about a water rate study lead council to the majority consensus to service water rates to an organization outside of Tipp City at Monday’s meeting.

The discussion was held during the meeting due to a property owner informing council that they were not satisfied with how they were being charged for water, according to city manager Tim Eggleston. Eggleston contacted vendors such as Arcadis and Hazen and Sawyer; Arcadis gave Tipp City a contract estimation of $50,ooo and Hazen and Sawyer gave the city a contract estimation of $27,000.

“Hazen is kind of familiar with our water system, they do a lot of evaluations for us, so I think that’s why this is a little lower. They’re also going to give us an active rate (…) program, where if we decide to build a new water tower, we decide to run a new waterline, or upgrade a system, we can plug those numbers into this program and it will tell us whether we need to raise rates or whether we are fine with those rates,” Eggleston said. “They’re also going to look at outside rates to look at (if) we’re charging out outside customers appropriately and being fair.”

Utilizing Hazen and Sawyer would be a one-time fee, paid for out of the city’s water fund and sewer fund, and Eggleston said that the city would be able to keep the information on water rates current. In Tipp City, the water rate is a flat fee; Eggleston said that most people pay for more water than they use and some felt that was unfair. Council has the option to look at the numbers in-house or to outsource it to a vendor, which Eggleston said would take away the idea that the city shifts the numbers at will.

“This takes it a step beyond just saying ‘hey, here’s your rate.’ It gives us a tool, at the end of the day, to be able to justify to council a rate increase,” Eggleston said.

The last water rate study was done around seven or eight years ago, according to council president Katelyn Berbach. The city had an electric rate study done in 2018 and utilized a vendor outside of the city for the study.

Council member Kathryn Huffman brought up that the initial issue was brought to council because of the city’s billing practices and the fact that a multi-unit building was being charged for the minimum rate structure, and the property owner who complained felt it was unfair to them that they were paying for water that wasn’t being used.

“I think that was a little different than what you were referencing in terms of a study,” Huffman said.

Eggleston elaborated that the property owner didn’t feel that the way they were being charged was fair because the city charges everyone the same base fee. Businesses with apartments above them pay two base fees and everyone gets 3,000 gallons of water; anyone who goes over the 3,000 gallons is charged a premium fee.

“The way I understood what Mr. Eggleston’s presentation is, is this study will allow us to address the issue raised by that individual property owner and whoever else might have an issue with their rate structure as well,” Tipp City Mayor Joseph Gibson said.

Council also unanimously approved the following items at Monday’s meeting:

• An ordinance modifying existing language in the Tipp City Code of Ordinances regarding discharging firearms and hunting.

• An ordinance amending and modifying the 2021 Annual Operating Budget to appropriate additional monies for various unanticipated events which have occurred during the course of the city’s 2021 fiscal year.

• A resolution declaring a 2015 Ford Utility Interceptor as surplus property and authorizes its disposal as the most cost-beneficial means as determined by the city manager.

• A resolution authorizing the city manager to sign and execute any agreements and contracts associated with the resurfacing of Hyatt Street between Park Avenue and just north of Crane Road. The resolution specifies Tipp City is responsible for 20 percent of the total estimated project.

• A resolution authorizing the city manager to participate in and to purchase road deicing salt from the Ohio Department of Transportation Cooperative Purchasing Plan.

• A motion to appoint Gary Gulden to the Civil Service Commission expiring April 5, 2027.

The next Tipp City Council meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 19.