RIDGELEY -- “There's going to be a raise in the water and sewer rates,” said Ridgeley Councilman Duke Lantz, as he explained that the last sewer increase in 2009 and the 2014 water increase are no longer sufficient.

By Ronda Wertman
Tribune Correspondent
RIDGELEY -- “There’s going to be a raise in the water and sewer rates,” said Ridgeley Councilman Duke Lantz, as he explained that the last sewer increase in 2009 and the 2014 water increase are no longer sufficient.
Looking back over the past year’s numbers, Lantz noted a loss of over $19,000 on sewer operations.
“All this rain we’ve had over 18 months has wreaked havoc with our aging sewer system,” he said. “We’re pumping a lot of ground water.”
The existing rates are not sufficient to maintain the mandatory reserve funds for the water and sewer systems.
The increase on the sewer rates is 50 percent, with the minimum bill going from $20 to $30.
Lantz noted that had the rates been increased every two years as suggested by the Public Service Commission, the increase would have been lower.
He noted that since the last increase, costs have increased, adding, “Cumberland (who treats the sewage) has raised its rates to us.”
“I know it’s hard on retirees and fixed income,” he said, noting, “We have to generate more revenue.” Lantz is concerned that if repairs would be needed there are not funds on hand for the needed repairs.
The last water increase was five years ago, so it is only increasing 10 percent with the town coming out $24,800 “to the good” last year.
“We have reserves that we have to keep up. We’re below that level again,” Lantz said, breaking it down for the council and residents that the proposed increase will amount to $13.60, bringing the minimum bill from $53.60 to $67.20. The increases for those using more than the 2,000 gallon minimum will increase accordingly.
 “I don’t like to raise rates, but you have to do it to do business,” Lantz said.
Councilman Jim Twigg agreed, saying, “You can’t do business in 2020, if we are at 2010 rates.”
The town has relined four manholes that were getting infiltration, but Lantz noted there are many manholes in the town.
“Since we have relined the manholes, numbers are stabilizing. We still see fluctuations when we have rains, but not as big,” he said.
The council is continuing to look at ways to lower the sewer bill, including possible smoke testing for other sources of infiltration.
The council will hold the first reading of the rate increase ordinances at its Aug. 13 meeting.