John C. Urtz

No water rate increase, for now, in Lee

Published Sep 13, 2017 at 4:00pm

TOWN OF LEE — Town water district customers will not see an increase in their six-month bill installment that will be due by the end of October, says Lee Supervisor John Urtz.

The town, which buys water from the City of Rome’s system, is still awaiting a long-term water rate study by the city before passing along further increases in what Rome charges to Lee, Urtz told the Town Board Tuesday night; the town is not paying Rome’s increased price in the meantime.

“We have not received the rate structure from the City of Rome,” said Urtz, noting it had been “promised since January 2016.” Without that, there will be “no water increase to the residents,” he added.

The current flat annual rate for Lee water district customers is $354, billed in two six-month installments each of $177 that are due in April and October. The town last September increased the annual rate by $36, following a $30 annual increase approved in September 2015 and a $20 annual increase approved in February 2015. Increases have been linked to higher prices charged by Rome to the town; the city has increased those prices in relation to major renovations to its water system, including tunnel repairs and filtration plant upgrades among the steps.

However, Urtz said last March that the town would not pay Rome’s latest price increase that was issued in January 2017 until the long-term water rate study was completed. The town is paying at a prior rate.

Rome Mayor Jacqueline Izzo said in March she did not have a problem with the town not paying the increased amount to the city until the rate study is done; she said the town could then catch up on the additional amount due.

Izzo, who became mayor in January 2016, also had noted that the city in spring 2016 decided to conduct a new rate study to take into account the many state-mandated improvements in its water system including newer steps.

Urtz commented, “we’ll work it all out at the end...once we get the rate study,” regarding Lee paying the increased price to the city.

The Lee water district includes about 1,300 customer accounts. The town’s annual payments to Rome for using water from the city’s system have been about $400,000-$500,000 annually.