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The price of Paris sewer and water service is about to go up, and residents may have little say in the matter. Paris City Council approved a notice of intent to sell $46 million in certificates of obligation as early as April 12 and increase sewer rates in support of a $60 million-plus renovation of the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

Payment of certificates of obligation will come from the utilities budget supported by sales and not from the general budget supported by taxes. For that reason, the project will not be put before the city’s voters — unless they petition the council to take the project to a bond election.

Council authorized bond consultant Mark McLiney with Samco Capital Markets and city staff to proceed with a bond rating, secure purchasers and put together offering documents complete with interest rate and annual bond payment for council approval and the issuance of bonds at an April 12 meeting.

To support payment of the certificates of obligation, councilors approved a semi-annual sewer rate increase for city water users. Residents who use 2,000 gallons of water a month will see a sewer rate increase of $1.59 in April, another $1.72 in October, $1.86 in April 2022, 89 cents in October 2022 with potential increases on a semi-annual basis for a total $13.94 increase over the course of six years. The current bill is $18.62, bringing monthly sewer bills to $32.56 in April 2026. Those who use 5,000 gallons of water a month would see an increase of $3.95 a month in April and another $4.29 in October, $4.63 in April 22 and $2.21 in October 22 with increases on a semi-annual basis for a total increase of $34.62 over the course of six years. The current bill is $46.33, bringing monthly sewer bills to $80.95 in April 2026.

The increases come on top of 2019 and 2020 rate increases, deemed necessary by consultants because of increasing operation costs at the city’s aging wastewater treatment plant. The city’s rate maintenance policy requires net water/sewer revenues to cover debt services plus 10%, a reserve fund equal to the average annual principal and interest payments and a $500,000 contingency fund.

The current plant is more than 60 years old, and workers keep their fingers crossed that a catastrophic failure won’t happen. Council previously discussed upgrading the plant at a lower cost, but have opted for a new plant capable of handling Paris’s expected growth in the coming decades.

Now’s the time to contact council members and let them know your thoughts.

Klark Byrd

The Paris News Editorial Board publishes editorials on topics of local relevance on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.

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