Should Lakewood Merge with NEORSD and save $150 million?

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Bill Call
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Should Lakewood Merge with NEORSD and save $150 million?

Postby Bill Call » Mon Jul 15, 2019 6:06 am

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) serves one million people and must spend $3 billion to comply with EPA rules. That's $3,000 per person.

The Lakewood sewer department serves 50,000 people and must spend $300 million to comply with EPA rules. That's $6,000 per person.

Why not join NEORSD save $150 million?

The Lakewood Observer is the perfect place for candidates to discuss this issue and others. Where are they?

Mayor Summers and his supporters were eager to regionalize Lakewood's assets and yet seem afraid to regionalize our liabilities. Shouldn't regionalization work both ways?

It's clever politics to concentrate on ideas that are safe and uncontroversial but the reason those ideas are safe and uncontroversial is that they are unimportant.


Brian Essi
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Re: Should Lakewood Merge with NEORSD and save $150 million?

Postby Brian Essi » Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:57 am

[quote="Bill Call]

Why not join NEORSD save $150 million?

.[/quote]

Mr. Call,

That would be too logical and evidence some compassion for Lakewood Taxpayers. O’Leary and Butler are so in touch with their “realities” that the facts are not obstacles to their public policy decisionmaking.


“Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts." Winston Churchill
Bill Call
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Re: Should Lakewood Merge with NEORSD and save $150 million?

Postby Bill Call » Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:11 am

Brian Essi wrote:[quote="Bill Call]

Why not join NEORSD save $150 million?

.[/quote]

Mr. Call,

That would be too logical and evidence some compassion for Lakewood Taxpayers. O’Leary and Butler are so in touch with their “realities” that the facts are not obstacles to their public policy decision making.[/quote]


Does anyone out there know if the City even examined the idea? NEORSD states that they serve 1 million customers and are liable for $3 billion. Lakewood has 50,000 residents and the City says we are liable for $300 million.

$150 million in savings seems like a lot of money to me.

There must be objections. What are those objections? Mayor Summers is a big fan of regionalization so you would think he would be eager to unload the sewer department.

Mr. Mayor, you have regionalized our assets why not regionalize our liabilities?


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Jim O'Bryan
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Re: Should Lakewood Merge with NEORSD and save $150 million?

Postby Jim O'Bryan » Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:26 am

Bill Call wrote:
Brian Essi wrote:[quote="Bill Call]

Why not join NEORSD save $150 million?

.[/quote]

Mr. Call,

That would be too logical and evidence some compassion for Lakewood Taxpayers. O’Leary and Butler are so in touch with their “realities” that the facts are not obstacles to their public policy decision making.[/quote][/quote]

Does anyone out there know if the City even examined the idea? NEORSD states that they serve 1 million customers and are liable for $3 billion. Lakewood has 50,000 residents and the City says we are liable for $300 million.

$150 million in savings seems like a lot of money to me.

There must be objections. What are those objections? Mayor Summers is a big fan of regionalization so you would think he would be eager to unload the sewer department.

Mr. Mayor, you have regionalized our assets why not regionalize our liabilities?[/quote]



Bill

This goes back to Madeline Cain's administration and possibly before. Each time it was deemed not worth it. Of course that could be from a variety of issues, from costs the lack of payback in support from various groups that get $150 million in contracts. A Lakewood politican could turn that kind of project into a proper launching pad for their career.

In the past it is obvious that for generations it was thought, keep city sustainable, and autonomous from outside rule. As we both know Ed FitzGerald was the big regionalist along with his fans and supporters. Of course they also had dreams of taking over the county like they did Lakewood.

Except for a goddamn driver's license...

.


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Dan OMalley
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Re: Should Lakewood Merge with NEORSD and save $150 million?

Postby Dan OMalley » Mon Jul 15, 2019 11:56 am

Bill Call wrote:The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) serves one million people and must spend $3 billion to comply with EPA rules. That's $3,000 per person.

The Lakewood sewer department serves 50,000 people and must spend $300 million to comply with EPA rules. That's $6,000 per person.

Why not join NEORSD save $150 million?

The Lakewood Observer is the perfect place for candidates to discuss this issue and others. Where are they?

Mayor Summers and his supporters were eager to regionalize Lakewood's assets and yet seem afraid to regionalize our liabilities. Shouldn't regionalization work both ways?

It's clever politics to concentrate on ideas that are safe and uncontroversial but the reason those ideas are safe and uncontroversial is that they are unimportant.


We would not save $150 million because A) Sewer costs are not calculated on a per-resident basis B) the costs of bringing Lakewood’s sewer system into EPA compliance are not determined and we are working to keep them far south of the figure you cite C) whatever those costs are, the upgrades would need to be incurred regardless of whether we maintained our own system or were a part of a regional system D) Lakewood’s sewer rates are lower than NEORSD’s


Dan O'Malley
Dan Alaimo
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Re: Should Lakewood Merge with NEORSD and save $150 million?

Postby Dan Alaimo » Mon Jul 15, 2019 1:25 pm

I was hoping Dan would chime in on this issue.
Water and sewer are not sexy but they are of vital importance.
Thanks.


"When tyrants tremble, sick with fear,
And hear their death-knell ringing,
When friends rejoice both far and near,
How can I keep from singing?"
--from the Pete Seeger version of "How can I keep from singing?"
Bill Call
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Re: Should Lakewood Merge with NEORSD and save $150 million?

Postby Bill Call » Mon Jul 15, 2019 2:57 pm

Dan OMalley wrote:We would not save $150 million because A) Sewer costs are not calculated on a per-resident basis B) the costs of bringing Lakewood’s sewer system into EPA compliance are not determined and we are working to keep them far south of the figure you cite C) whatever those costs are, the upgrades would need to be incurred regardless of whether we maintained our own system or were a part of a regional system D) Lakewood’s sewer rates are lower than NEORSD’s


Thanks for posting a response.

A) a per capita estimate of costs is a reasonable way to compare costs. If NEORSD computes a per capita cost of $3,000 that does not mean that each person is getting an invoice for $3,000. It's just a good measure of cost per person and a good way to compare costs. It's currently estimated that Lakewood will spend (over many years) $6,000 per person and that the residents served by NEORSD spend $3,000 per person.

If the cost of upgrades is estimated at $300 million (in constant dollars) what leads you to believe that those costs will be less? What if those costs are substantially higher? What if the annual cost of (inflation) construction increases to 5% or 10%? Who assumes that risk?

We live in a region with a declining population in a County with a declining population. What are the risks that substantially higher costs will have to be spread out over fewer residents?

At what point do huge increases in property taxes and huge increases in sewer and water rates drive away residents? If the population of Lakewood continues to decline the liability per person will increase at an increasing rate. Is is better to spread out that risk over 1,050,000 people or to have that risk assumed by 50,000 people?

Has the City done a risk assessment?

B) I'm sure the City is working hard to convince the EPA to change its policy and is working hard to contain costs. Do you believe that NEORSD is working less hard for the same result?

C) You are correct in stating that those costs will have to be incurred regardless of whether we maintain our system or if we were part of a regional system. Wouldn't it be better to spread those costs over as many people as possible?

D) Lakewood's sewer rates are lower than NEORSD's but not for long. Mayor Summers has stated that the City will see substantial rates increases far into the future.

Has the City commissioned an analysis of the cost/benefit of merging with NOACA? If not, why not? If so, can you post it here?

I just don't understand why our Mayor and Council are so eager to regionalize City assets and so opposed to regionalizing our liabilities.


Dan OMalley
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Re: Should Lakewood Merge with NEORSD and save $150 million?

Postby Dan OMalley » Tue Jul 16, 2019 11:02 am

Bill Call wrote: D) Lakewood's sewer rates are lower than NEORSD's but not for long. Mayor Summers has stated that the City will see substantial rates increases far into the future.


I believe NEORSD's suburban sewer rate is currently around $10.50/ccf and will hit $12.57/ccf in 2021. Here are Lakewood's rates through 2023:

2019: $7.50/ccf
2020: $8.25/ccf
2021: $9.08/ccf
2022: $9.99/ccf
2023: $10.98/ccf

FYI. That schedule anticipates significant infrastructure investments toward clean water act compliance.

I don't want to minimize the impact of increased costs on residents - it's at the front of my mind anytime we talk about raising rates or making infrastructure investments. But I don't believe a hypothetical merger would be a financial benefit to Lakewood.


Dan O'Malley
Bill Call
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Re: Should Lakewood Merge with NEORSD and save $150 million?

Postby Bill Call » Tue Jul 16, 2019 11:28 am

Dan OMalley wrote:
Bill Call wrote: D) Lakewood's sewer rates are lower than NEORSD's but not for long. Mayor Summers has stated that the City will see substantial rates increases far into the future.


I believe NEORSD's suburban sewer rate is currently around $10.50/ccf and will hit $12.57/ccf in 2021. Here are Lakewood's rates through 2023:

2019: $7.50/ccf
2020: $8.25/ccf
2021: $9.08/ccf
2022: $9.99/ccf
2023: $10.98/ccf

FYI. That schedule anticipates significant infrastructure investments toward clean water act compliance.

I don't want to minimize the impact of increased costs on residents - it's at the front of my mind anytime we talk about raising rates or making infrastructure investments. But I don't believe a hypothetical merger would be a financial benefit to Lakewood.


Thanks for responding and using this public forum.

NEORSD RATES.docx
(13.62 KiB) Downloaded 28 times


2016-2021 rate schedule
Cleveland Suburbs
Year Monthly Base Charge Regular per MCF Affordability/
Homestead per MCF Regular per MCF Affordability/
Homestead per MCF
2016 $2.40 $78.05 $46.85 $79.85 $48.05
2017 $3.60 $83.10 $49.85 $84.60 $50.85
2018 $4.95 $88.40 $53.05 $89.60 $53.85
2019 $6.35 $94.15 $56.50 $95.05 $57.10
2020 $7.95 $100.15 $60.10 $100.75 $60.50
2021 $9.70 $106.50 $63.90 $106.80 $64.10


Richard Baker
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Re: Should Lakewood Merge with NEORSD and save $150 million?

Postby Richard Baker » Thu Jul 18, 2019 10:49 pm

The City of Lakewood had an opportune time to subcontract out garbage pickup but instead, they reduced service, retained most of the garbage department staff and invested in expensive trucks and equipment. Subcontracting would have been much more economical and It would have removed the taxpayers from two significant burdens in that department, health care and retirement cost.

Additionally the need to add to the realm was overwhelming or politically motivated, the city dumps RITA and opens its own income tax division, hiring people to an already over staffed city government at substantially higher expense to the taxpayers. No, the City of Lakewood is not going to join NEORSD, it would make good economic sense and in the 25 years I have owned a home in the City of Lakewood, I have never seen them do anything rational, logical, intelligent or economical.


Richard Baker
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Re: Should Lakewood Merge with NEORSD and save $150 million?

Postby Richard Baker » Thu Jul 18, 2019 10:49 pm

The City of Lakewood had an opportune time to subcontract out garbage pickup but instead, they reduced service, retained most of the garbage department staff and invested in expensive trucks and equipment. Subcontracting would have been much more economical and It would have removed the taxpayers from two significant burdens in that department, health care and retirement cost.

Additionally the need to add to the realm was overwhelming or politically motivated, the city dumps RITA and opens its own income tax division, hiring people to an already over staffed city government at substantially higher expense to the taxpayers. No, the City of Lakewood is not going to join NEORSD, it would make good economic sense and in the 25 years I have owned a home in the City of Lakewood, I have never seen them do anything rational, logical, intelligent or economical.


Bill Call
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Re: Should Lakewood Merge with NEORSD and save $150 million?

Postby Bill Call » Wed Aug 07, 2019 5:54 am

Richard Baker wrote:Additionally the need to add to the realm was overwhelming or politically motivated, the city dumps RITA and opens its own income tax division, hiring people to an already over staffed city government at substantially higher expense to the taxpayers. No, the City of Lakewood is not going to join NEORSD, it would make good economic sense and in the 25 years I have owned a home in the City of Lakewood, I have never seen them do anything rational, logical, intelligent or economical.


A year or so after the City left RITA I requested a cost analysis from RITA. The amount charged by RITA would have been substantially less than the cost of our income tax department. There were other considerations. The City was dissatisfied with the new resident tracking and under reporting of wages. The City actually does a good job of tracking new residents. However, now that RITA has access to IRS and State of Ohio tax information RITA can do a better job of comparing City reporting to what is reported to the State and IRS.

I guess I just don't understand the math behind water and sewer charges. The City says the per person cost of EPA compliance is $6,000. The NEORSD says their per person cost is $3,000. Yet we are told that the water and sewer rates for Lakewood will be lower than the rates for NEORSD.


cmager
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Re: Should Lakewood Merge with NEORSD and save $150 million?

Postby cmager » Wed Aug 07, 2019 9:00 am

Richard Baker wrote:The City of Lakewood had an opportune time to subcontract out garbage pickup but instead, they reduced service, retained most of the garbage department staff and invested in expensive trucks and equipment. Subcontracting would have been much more economical and It would have removed the taxpayers from two significant burdens in that department, health care and retirement cost.

So healthcare and retirement are magically paid by someone else? Or garbage department staff don't deserve healthcare and retirement? Typical.



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