Oxford Borough water rates increase
By Steven Hoffman
Oxford Borough Council unanimously approved a water rate increase at the Dec. 16 council meeting, with the new rates effective in 2020. The increase would add $125,000 to the water budget, which is separate from the general fund budget. The last water rate increase occurred in 2014.
Oxford Borough manager Brian Hoover said he spent many hours studying the rates of other municipalities to see how Oxford compared. He said, “The borough’s current water rates are significantly lower than the water rates of other boroughs in Chester County and the private water companies like Aqua.”
Hoover explained the increase saying, “a minimum user in the borough uses 5,000 gallons per quarter and spends $26 per quarter. The new rate for that amount will increase from $26 to $31 per quarter.
The illustration below shows current rates and increases which will begin in 2020
5000 Minimum - $26.00 New Rate $31.00 – 5000 Gallons Increase 19%
5,001 to 50,000 -$7.00 per 1000 gallons New Rate - $7.70 per 1000 gallons 10.00%
50,001-100,000 - $7.66 per 1000 gallons New Rate - $8.43 per 1000g 10.00%
100,001-150,000 - $8.69 per 1000 gallons New Rate - $9.56 per 1000g 10.00%
Over 150,001 - $8.94 per 1000 gallons New Rate - $9.83 per 1000g 10.00%
OUT OF TOWN
5,000 Minimum - $31.20 New Rate - $37.20 19.00%
5,001 to 50,000 - $8.40 New Rate - $9.24 10.00%
50.001 to 100,000 - $9.19 New Rate - $10.11 10.00%
100,001 to 150,000 – $10.43 New Rate - $11.47 10.00%
Over 150,000 - $10.73 New Rate-$11.80 10.00%
The borough has been proactive in updating water infrastructure, and in securing grants for projects. Hoover thanked State Representative John Lawrence for his support of a recent water main grant in the amount of $750,000. “Lawrence really went to bat for the borough and was instrumental in helping us secure those funds,” Hoover said.
The Borough has also applied for a state DCED grant in the amount of $450,000 for water main improvements for Hodgson and Eighth Streets.
This year, water mains have been replaced on Broad Street between Fifth and Eighth streets, and Franklin, Nottingham and Garfield streets. Grants have also been used for some of that work. Hoover said plans are in the works to apply for another grant to replace the water main between Fifth and Eighth streets and also on Eighth Street.
The borough is projecting another hit to the water budget due to DEP mandates. DEP has advised the borough that manganese, found in Borough water, is considered a secondary contaminant, which means the borough will need to install a manganese removal system. Borough engineer David Bright explained, “Manganese is not currently a health problem, but it does leave a black residue in water. It is more of an aesthetic problem. The treatment we are looking at is an ionic exchange.”
DEP is asking for a plan from the Borough in 3 to 6 months, with implementation of the plan within 5 years. Figures for the engineering study and implementation of the plan could run from $1 million to $2 million. Those figures include a building and other infrastructure. Currently, the borough rids the system of some of that manganese by performing flushing of the water lines twice a year.
The Borough is also working on another well located at Sycamore Crossing. Bringing Well #14 on line would reduce the Borough’s dependence on Chester Water Authority (CWA). John Schaible, the Public Works supervisor, described Well #14 as a “good producing well that could decrease the Borough’s supplementary use of Chester Water Authority’s (CWA) water.” This year alone the Borough has spent $125,000 on water from CWA.
Ongoing negotiations between Aqua and Chester Water Authority (CWA) could potentially impact future water rates in the Borough. If Aqua succeeds in acquiring CWA, rates could rise, plus additional lab testing could increase costs for the Borough.
A maintenance project on the water treatment tower is also expected in the near future and during that period the borough would be using CWA water.