City begins process for likely sewer rate hike


In February, Seymour Mayor Matt Nicholson said the city would have to look at raising its sewer rates in order to be able to fund the service in the future.

Eight months later, the time has come to start that process and learn just how much costs may have to increase.

Last week, Nicholson proposed the Seymour Board of Public Works and Safety contract with Reedy Financial Services to conduct a sewer rate study to collect the information needed to determine what rates need to be.

That information will include projected income versus expenses for the sewer department and projects that will add new sewer users or improve existing sewer infrastructure in the next five years. It also will compare Seymour’s sewer rate to other cities of the same size.

“I want to go ahead and set that in motion, so we can see exactly where we’re at,” he said.

Nicholson anticipates the results of the study will show a rate increase is needed, but how much he doesn’t want to speculate.

It has been 20 years since the city has increased what residents pay for sewer service, a fact he attributes to past administrations not wanting to tackle the issue.

“Does anybody else have anything that has stayed the same price for 20 years?” he asked when giving his first State of the City address in February. “We can only do so much with what we’ve got.”

He has pledged the city will do their homework to present the community with the best option.

“What people need to know is this isn’t a new tax or increased tax, this is a user based service and when expenses for that service go up, the user fee has to go up,” he said.

Board member Dave Earley, who also serves as city council president, said the rate study comes at no surprise.

“We knew it was coming,” he said.

Nicholson plans to bring up the issue during tonight’s council meeting at 7 p.m. to see how other council members feel about going ahead with the rate study and likely increase.

He doesn’t think the rate study will take long to complete as Reedy already has access to the majority of data required.

“We’ve spent the better part of the year making sure we were ready for the fine points of it so it should move pretty quickly,” Nicholson said.

Once the study is complete, it will be brought back to the council and that board will make the decision on whether an increase is implemented, how much it will be and if it’s phased in or done all at once.

Although the city’s trash collection rate is not included in this study, Nicholson said it could be looked at too. At $3 a month, he feels the trash fee is low.

As for the public’s reaction to potential increases, Nicholson knows there will be opposition.

“There are going to be people that absolutely hate the idea,” he said. “But this could help keep us from raising them even more down the road.”

There’s also a possibility the state could step in and force the increase, taking away local control.

“This at least gives us the ability to have some control and look at phasing in any increase instead of doing it all at once,” he said.

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”If you go” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

Seymour City Council meeting

When: 7 p.m. today

Where: City Hall, 301-309 N. Chestnut St., use side entrance off of Third Street.

On the agenda: Discussion of a proposed sewer rate study and public hearing for the city’s 2021 budget


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