We are only a few days into 2013 and most of us have discovered that we will have to make do with less this year. Before January ends, Oak Ridgers will realize that fact again when they receive their water and sewer bills, which will reflect the second rate hike since last May.
But before you have a chance to see your newly increased bill, Oak Ridge City Council may take an action that will cause your rates to rise a third time before 2013 ends. On Jan. 14, City Council will vote whether or not to apply for two state loans totaling $18 million. This debt, in addition to a large portion of the $15 million issued since September 2011, will pay for work affiliated with a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrative order that requires the city to stop sewer overflows.
All $33 million borrowed will be paid by Oak Ridgers through multiple increases in your water and sewer rates. The amount of those increases is not determined until after each round of debt is issued. In other words, the city first borrows on your behalf and then determines how much it will charge you without consideration for your ability to pay.