YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Youngstown could have some serious financial problems with the wastewater department if it doesn’t raise sewage rates.
Without the increase, there would be a $3.4 million deficit next year and $16.4 million by 2024.
Some members of Youngstown City Council have been adamant about holding a public meeting before they officially vote on the increase. So, to help people understand what’s happening, that public meeting was held Tuesday night.
Public Works Director Chuck Shasho explained how the EPA is requiring Youngstown to upgrade its sewage treatment plant on Poland Avenue and eliminate overflow into Mill Creek Park.
The proposal is to raise sewage rates 4% a year for the next five years, starting on Jan. 1.
About 50 people showed up to the meeting. Although they understood the predicament the city is in, some were still not happy about having to pay more money.
“How in the heck am I going to pay the higher water bill? You want us to get kicked out of our house?” said resident Ildiko Studemire.
Mayor Tito Brown does not want to raise rates but said he has no choice.
“If we did not do something on our own then we would be subject to a court telling us. If you don’t believe me, Akron, Ohio, tried it. They tried to fight the government and they found themselves paying maybe three or four times more,” Brown said.
The project will cost the city $160 million by the time it’s done in 2033.
“You guys in the city were putting money into other big projects instead of helping your community who are poor. You guys are putting millions into other projects going into the community instead of helping us,” said resident John Wilson.
City council is expected to vote on the rate increase before the end of the year.