BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — Maumee City Council unanimously approved a new 40-year water agreement with the city of Toledo last week.
The action came at a special council meeting on September 25 in which city leaders outlined all available water options, determining that the Toledo agreement is best option moving forward. Maumee’s current contract with Toledo expires in 2026. If all of the member communities approve the new contract, it would take affect on January 1, 2020.
“With any negotiation, there are wins and losses,” said Maumee Service Director Joe Camp, who has been part of the negotiation process over the past four years. Camp also served on the technical commission, which was part of the regional water negotiation process that allowed counterparts from all contracting communities to examine Toledo’s operating water costs in order to determine a proper cost-of-service formula for each member community.
“Over the course of the next seven years, everyone will converge to a uniform block rate,” Camp said.
While each contract community including Maumee will pay the same wholesale rate, each community also adds internal operation and maintenance charges to those rates.
The rates for water consumers in Maumee will likely increase; however, the exact rates can’t be determined until all of the contract communities have signed on to the deal and all of the data is thoroughly analyzed, said Camp.
On the wholesale side, Maumee’s rates could potentially double in the next seven years, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that rates for consumers will double. According to Camp, the city works to keep its operating and maintenance costs – which are the costs added after Maumee purchases water from Toledo – from increasing.
“The bulk water component is a small component and that will double,” Camp said, “but your overall rate for water will not.”
Maumee Finance Director Deb Cartledge is currently analyzing all of the data to determine final costs for water consumers in Maumee and a detailed presentation on those costs will likely take place in November, Camp added.
“It’s not an easy calculation and it’s not an exact science,” Camp said.
The city of Toledo and Lucas Country will pay a retail rate, which includes Toledo’s operational and maintenance fee. High water uses – those organizations that use more than 1.2 million gallons of water per month – will also pay a separate rate.
With the unified contract, Toledo owns the plant and remains the obligor on all debt and all future debt and has ultimate control of rates. The Toledo Regional Water Commission will include a director of public utility and a director or commissioner in charge of utilities from each of the nine contract communities. The commission shall convene as a public body and shall determine all water rate adjustments, which will be sent to Toledo City Council for approval. The rate changes will pass after 45 days, unless three-fourths of Toledo City Council’s member body votes against it.
If one of the contract communities backs out, then the committee will reconvene to propose a new plan, Camp said.
“The contract communities won on a few items and the city of Toledo won on a few items, but we felt that it’s a fair deal, a fair process. We spent many hours together going through the information and Jim Shaw and Ed Moore from the city of Toledo deserve a lot of credit for coming up with this concept and coming up with a formula that will be here for generations to come,” Camp said.
In addition to considering the Toledo water option, the city of Maumee also looked into purchasing water from Bowling Green, the Michindoh Aquifer and a self-owned plant. Each other option would have been more burdensome and costly for the city; however, having options was the main reason for studying other plans, said Maumee Mayor Richard Carr.
“Our objective has always been for our council to have options for purchasing good water for our residents and to make certain that we will not be in a vulnerable position in the future when our water provider can unilaterally determine what can be charged,” Carr said.
He described the negotiations with Toledo as intense, open and honest.
“Those negotiations were of such a nature that nobody held back in expressing their opinions on any matter – it made the contract fair for all of us,” he said.
He also praised Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz for giving the technical representatives the opportunity for the first time ever to look at the books.
“This enabled the experts and technical committee to determine the cost of providing water, which was critical to our being in the position we are this evening,” Carr said.