The Altoona Water Authority staff has proposed raising sewer rates by 12 percent for next year, the second in a four-year schedule for paying back loans to renovate both sewer plants.
The staff proposed no increase in water rates.
The hike would raise the $65 sewer bill for a user of 10,000 gallons a month - the national average - to $72. That average user would continue to pay $91 a month for water, for a total bill of $163.
It would be a total increase of 4.4 percent.
"We've got to pay the money back," Vice Chairman Patrick Dumm said Tuesday at a budget meeting.
The authority will decide whether to enact the proposed hikes later this month.
The four-year plan originally called for raising sewer rates a total of 58 percent to pay for loans that covered most of the $70 million cost for improvements to protect Chesapeake Bay.
Based on the plan, there will be an even bigger sewer hike for 2013 and a smaller one for 2014, as the authority builds its income stream to match growing debt service on the loans, controller Gina DeRubeis said.
The authority will begin payback on the Westerly Sewer Treatment Plant next year and start full payments the following year, she said. It will begin payback on the Easterly plant in 2013 and start full payments the following year, she said.
The authority obtained a $20 million low-interest loan over 20 years from Pennvest for Westerly toward the $30 million cost. It obtained a $1 million grant from H2O PA for the project and borrowed through bonds for the rest.
The authority obtained a $10 million low-interest loan over 30 years from Pennvest for Easterly toward the $34.5 million cost.
It also got a $10 million grant from Pennvest and a $2.6 million grant from the H2O PA program and borrowed through bonds to cover the rest.
With the proposed sewer hike, minimum users - of up to about 1,600 gallons - would pay $1.57 more a month for a total of $14.63. Large users - 2.2 million gallons - would pay $1,627 more for a total $15,160.
Last year, the authority raised sewer rates 10 percent, while also raising water rates 4 percent.
Since 1988, the authority has raised sewer rates 10 times and water rates 15 times, according to a chart provided by staff.
The changes mainly reflect big capital projects.
On the sewer side, those comprise $30 million for Westerly renovations and $7 million for a combined sewer overflow facility at Tuckahoe Park in 1991; and $36 million for Easterly renovations and $6.5 million for the Bellwood Avenue combined sewage overflow facility in 1992 and 1990, respectively.
Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.