City Of Akron Modernizing And Restructuring Water Rates In 2024
Akron, Ohio, Nov. 9, 2023 — Today, Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan announced a restructuring of the city’s water rates to take place beginning in 2024. The updates include significantly reducing the current declining block rate system which favors large use water customers, implementing a fixed infrastructure charge based on meter size, and adding a small increase to water rates which have not been raised since 2012. These updates will fund much-needed investment to Akron’s aging drinking water infrastructure. The City is also launching a brand new water affordability program for Akron residents.
What are the changes:
Akron is significantly reducing the old declining block rate system which historically has given big discounts to the largest consumers of Akron water.
Akron is increasing the water rate from $2.73 per HCF to $3.06 per HCF which is a $0.33 raise.
Akron is adding a fixed infrastructure charge based on water meter size.
For residential customers, that fixed charge will be $9.
See the chart below for the fixed fee for all meter sizes:
What does this mean for Akron residents:
For most Akron residents, this means the overall utility bill will increase $10-$12 per month.
That increase will be from the $9 infrastructure fee and the rate increase based on average use.
50% of residential customers use 3HCF or less per month. 95% use 10HCF or less.
For example, a family of 4 using 6 HCF of water per month would see a total increase of $10.98 on their overall bill.
$0.33 rate increase x 6HCF = $1.98
$1.98 + $9 infrastructure fee = Total increase of $10.98
You can determine your estimated new payment by using the city’s calculator tool here.
See below and attached for a bill chart comparing Akron’s current and future rates against our regional peers.
Why change is needed:
The City of Akron has a resilient water distribution system, but it is aging and in need of investment. Much of the infrastructure is over 100 years old. We’ve seen the evidence of its age by the number of repairs needed: 9,746 water infrastructure repairs in the last 5 years alone. When cities don’t properly and proactively invest in their drinking water infrastructure, catastrophes can occur. We’ve seen it happen in Flint, Michigan and more recently in Jackson, Mississippi. We have consent decrees across the country including here in Akron for sewer work to protect our waterways, but we don’t have those same court order demands for drinking water infrastructure which means it is up to the municipalities to responsibly oversee their drinking water operations.
Where will the funds go?
There are several shovel ready projects that will be funded by the estimated $15M of revenue that these changes will produce. They will be spent directly on drinking water infrastructure and sustaining the affordability program:
Replacement of Brittain Road Reservoir (110 years old)
Water main replacements (minimize risk of water main breaks)
Lead service line replacement
Akron only has 2,550 active service line connections left and plans to be lead-free by the end of 2027
Filter Building Treatment Facility (110 years old)
What about the sewer rates?:
Sewer rates will NOT change.
The City can commit to NOT increasing sewer rates in 2024.
Akron’s New Water Affordability Program
In conjunction with these updates, the City is also launching a new water affordability program called the Akron Water Bill Assistance Program which will be open for applications beginning January 1, 2024. This program will allow eligible Akron residents to receive a 40% discount on the water portion of their bill (will not include sewer or curb service). That discount will cover the $4 billing charge, the $9 infrastructure charge, and the water rate.
Akron residents are eligible for the Water Bill Assistance program if they are a recipient of the Summit County Homestead Exemption, they have received a Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) letter of participation, or they have a Percentage of Income Payment Plus (PIPP) letter of participation. This program is open to both homeowners and tenants. By opening up the program to tenants, the city estimates that 19,000 more Akron residents will be eligible for assistance. Akron water customers who are not Akron residents are not eligible for the program.
STEP 1: Residents much first apply to HEAP or PIPP, or have a Homestead Exemption from the County.
If utilizing the HEAP or PIPP method of eligibility, apply through the Ohio Department of Development here.
If utilizing the Homestead Exemption follow Summit County’s instructions to apply.
STEP 2: Beginning on January 1, 2024, the City will open up applications to the Water Bill Assistance Program. You will be able to apply online via email or by U.S. Mail or fax.
Learn more at AkronOhio.gov/WaterAssist.
Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan: “While I know that no one wants to see their bill increase, this restructuring is the responsible thing to do for Akron’s future. These changes will fund necessary projects to ensure our drinking water remains of the highest quality for years to come. I’m proud of the way our team has optimized the existing system during my tenure as Mayor, but it is now time to really invest into our most precious resource: drinking water.”
Akron City Council President Margo Sommerville: “I’m sure we all agree that it is extremely important to have clean and safe drinking water. It is equally important to make the necessary investments in the infrastructure that delivers that water into the homes of our residents. I thank Mayor Horrigan for his leadership in ensuring the resiliency of our system. We’re aware that for some Akron residents, any increase to their water bill places too high a burden on their wallets, and so I’m thankful for the creation of the new Akron Water Bill Assistance Program that will help provide ongoing discounts to our residents in need.”
Public Service Director Chris Ludle: “We have been very intentional in this restructuring to do so in a way that is more equitable for those who are already overburdened in our community. Launching the Akron Water Bill Assistance Program and opening that to tenants in addition to homeowners will make that discount much more widely accessible. Also, significantly reducing the old declining block rate structure and implementing a fixed charge based on meter size ensures that those larger water customers who are placing the highest demand on the system will pay more to support it.”
Water Bureau Manager Jeff Bronowski: “Mayor Horrigan is the reason we’ve been able to go so long without having to raise our water rates. Under his direction, we have sought out much needed grant funding and really utilized the current system to its maximum ability. Even so, the operating costs of running the system have skyrocketed, including costs for maintenance, chemicals and equipment. In order to maintain the safe, clean operation that we are known for, we must improve our revenue stream to protect Akron water for the next generation.”