City council approves utilities budget

The Columbus City Council has approved the Utility Service Board’s 2022 budget.

According to the department’s 2022 financial plan, the proposed budget for water is about $7.04 million; sewer is about $14.66 million.

“Overall, the 2022 plan shows a general decrease from what was approved for 2021,” according to city utilities. “This shouldn’t be viewed as any decrease in effort or even expenditures but is primarily due to changes in the classification of certain expenses from operating to capital either by staff decision or regulator’s direction.”

Combined revenue from water and sewer is expected to rise from a projected $16.8 million in 2021 to about $20.2 million in 2022 — or about 20.5%. While the report puts this at 10.8%, Interim Director Keith Reeves said that the lower figure was a typo and requested that the error be corrected.

Water income is projected to increase by 30%, and sewer income is expected to rise by 16.2%. Both utilities were approved for a rate increase earlier this year, which will play a factor in the boost.

Reeves wrote in a summary to city council that the plan for 2022 includes several large projects that will be funded through bonds and, if available, grants.

The plan also includes “funds for repairs and upgrades to our water and wastewater treatment facility, an aggressive sewer lining program and security and accessibility upgrades to the city’s McClure Road offices.” These smaller projects will be funded through normal annual revenues, utility officials said.