At its May 26 board meeting, MSD proposed an Emergency Wastewater Rate Assistance Program (EWRAP) for customers who need help paying sewer bills. The program is in response to a proposed rate increase of $2.98 per month on the average MSD bill that, if approved, would take effect August 1, 2020.
Prior to making its rate proposal, MSD required all divisions to plan reduced budgets for the upcoming fiscal year. In total, 66 vacant positions will be eliminated, saving approximately $5.6 million. In addition, the capital improvement budget shrunk by $6.9 million. However, those savings are countered by steep increases in delinquent accounts since the COVID-19 pandemic began. MSD's delinquent accounts jumped from less than 500 customers in mid-March to close to 10,000 customers currently.
Additionally, MSD will see a $7 million increase in its debt service required to fund capital projects, many of which are required to meet the federal Consent Decree requirements to reduce sewer overflows that pollute area waterways.
Assistance programs would offset rate increase
Under MSD's proposed EWRAP, households up to 150 percent of the federal poverty line would be eligible for a 10 percent wastewater discount on their bill. With this discount, customers would effectively be paying less than they pay currently, even in light of the rate increase.
MSD will also continue its Senior Citizen discount program where eligible customers can receive a 30 percent discount on their wastewater charges and the Consent Decree Surcharge. Additionally, MSD participates in the Louisville Water Foundation's Drops of Kindness program that helps customers who have trouble paying their water and sewer bill. Drops of Kindness is funded by donations from MSD, Louisville Water Company, Home Serve USA and individual contributions from anyone who wants to help.
MSD historically has made annual rate adjustments to reflect the growing needs with maintaining and upgrading the wastewater treatment, stormwater drainage and flood-protection system.
After the proposed rate increase, MSD's rates will remain lower than peer cities such as Cincinnati, Nashville, Indianapolis and St. Louis, helping the community remain competitive for economic development.
Public Comment Period
MSD's board approved the preliminary rate proposal yesterday, initiating a 60-day public comment period. Those wishing to view or comment on the rate proposal may visit MSD's website at LouisvilleMSD.org/Rates or contact MSD Customer Relations at 502.540.6000 or at CustomerRelations@LouisvilleMSD.org to receive a copy by mail.
Written comments regarding this proposed rate increase must be sent to MSD Board c/o Finance, 700 West Liberty Street, Louisville, KY 40203 or email to Finance@LouisvilleMSD.org by July 26, 2020.