MSD panel recommending bond issue to cut rate hikes

The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District Rate Commission has recommended asking voters to approve the use of $275 million in bonds to reduce wastewater rate increases by 56 percent.

The Rate Commission last week issued its report and recommendation on a proposal for wastewater and stormwater rates that was submitted to the commission by district staff in January.

The Rate Commission also has made changes to the implementation schedule for a new impervious stormwater charge that “will allow MSD customers to better prepare for full implementation of the new stormwater rate,” a news release stated.

Upon receiving the report, MSD’s Board of Trustees must wait a minimum of 45 days before adopting the commission’s recommendation. District officials said that final adoption tentatively will be considered by the board in May. If the board adopts the recommendations, the earliest a vote on bonds could take place is August.

The proposal first presented to the Rate Commission in 2007 called for a series of increases that would raise wastewater rates 64 percent from 2007 to 2011. Under the alternative 2008 proposal, MSD would use $275 million from the sale of bonds to hold the series of rate increases to 28 percent. If bonds are not approved by area voters, the wastewater rate change schedule from the 2007 proposal would go into effect.

Changes in stormwater rates would provide for less dramatic annual increases.

Before March 1, stormwater services were funded by a 24-cent monthly charge on each MSD bill and through a variety of property taxes. Starting with April bills, MSD will calculate stormwater charges that are based on the amount of impervious area on each customer’s property. The new stormwater charge is 12 cents per 100 square feet of impervious area.