The Lebanese City Council has passed the first reading of an ordinance that will increase capacity fees for developers looking to build within the city limits.
City officials, including Lebanese Mayor Rick Bell, have insisted that current feepayers for the water and sanitation systems will not be burdened by spending needed to support growth.
Plans to increase charges have been under consideration for some time as the Utilities Department presses on the need to manage growing strains on system capacity. Lebanon Utilities Director Margaret Washko explained the changes.
“(The ordinance) increases the fees for connecting to our water system and to our sewage system,” Washko said. “You’re paying for new equipment that will be needed as we reach capacity at our wastewater and water facility. It’s a one-time fee per home, per single family home (SFU) and buy-in for the capacity of our facilities.”
An SFU is calculated using 350 gallons of water per day, which is considered standard expected usage for a single family home.
The increase in water capacity charges was the largest increase. Currently, water capacity charges are $350 per SFU. After the change, the fee is $2,500 per SFU, a 614% increase.
Channel capacity charges did not increase as much. Currently, these fees are $2,200 per SFU. The new rate is $4,500 per SFU, an increase of 104%.
“We also charge technical fees for reviewing the drawings and then inspection fees to make sure all the tubing that comes in is up to standard,” Washko said.
Water mains and sewer inspection fees were each set at $300 per project. With the adoption of the new structure, these fees will be $1,800, a 500% increase.
The city council has made an exception for projects with only one SFU. These fees would be $900.
Additional fees include a $600 tuition fee for water and sewer availability.
“We charge $600 for an availability letter because we often need to model our systems or run a series of calculations to determine if we can even handle the upcoming development,” Washko said. “We’re paying a lot of money up front to see if we can handle these requests.”
Water and sewer inspection fees have also been updated. Currently, water main inspection fees are $1.50 per linear foot and sewer inspection fees are $2.25. After the change, inspections of water mains and sewer lines will be $3.50 and $4.15 per linear foot, respectively.
The fee for the new waterline represents a 133% increase. The rise in sewer lines represents an 84% increase.
The city will not retroactively apply the new fees to developments already approved by the Lebanese Planning Commission.
“We didn’t want to surprise anyone, so all the projects that have already been approved by the planning commission have already arrived,” Washko said. “They have an acquis to pay the old dues.”
The capacity fees will take effect for all projects approved after the next Planning Commission meeting on July 26. Projects approved on or before July 26 will carry over and pay the old capacity fees until July 31, 2025, when all projects will pay the new capacity fees.
The Water and Wastewater Plan Review Fees will be effective Sept. 1. Building inspection fees are effective Aug. 1, 2022.