Urbana City Schools will pay to connect city water and sewer to its new buildings, and the district will see higher usage charges if it builds one of the buildings outside the city limits.
Costs associated with obtaining water and sewer services for new construction are the same whether the school district is inside or outside the city limits, city officials say. Higher costs come from monthly usage charges only if a facility is outside the city limits. And there is an additional fee the school district would pay if it chooses to put one of those school buildings on a piece of property off South U.S. Route 68.
The district is finishing design details for two new school buildings as part of a voter-approved building project. As part of that project, the high school would be knocked down and rebuilt on its current site off Washington Avenue in Urbana, and the new elementary/middle school building would be completely new construction.
School officials are determining where the elementary/middle school would be located. The district had thought to put it off Community Drive, next to the Champaign Family YMCA, inside the city limits. But ongoing concerns about methane gas leakage from the city’s former landfill, and disputes over road access, have the district looking at a 68.9-acre parcel off South U.S. Route 68 between Vintage Drive Thru and Campground Road.
The U.S. Route 68 property is not in the city limits, and the district has not determined if it will purchase that property.
The city charges double for water and sewer usage if a customer is outside the city limits. The other fees associated with tapping into existing water and sewer on the site are one-time fees and are the same whether inside or outside the city, Urbana Community Development Manager Doug Crabill said. Before water and sewer service can be given to a customer outside the city limits, the Urbana City Council must approve it.
A city ordinance states that upon an approval of water and sewer tap-ins outside the city limits, a petition for annexation must be filed within 60 days if the property is contiguous to the city, Crabill said. The U.S. Route 68 property is contiguous to the city.
All the fees and charges from water and sewer hookups and usage must go into the water and sewer funds at the city, Urbana Director of Finance Chris Boettcher said. Ohio law requires income from these services to be a separate fund from the city’s general fund. These funds are self-funded through charges for services and are not supported by the city’s general fund. None of the fees and income from water and sewer can be used to support the city budget, which pays for everything from staff, fire, police, streets and supplies.
Estimated water/sewer costs for new elementary/middle school
Whether the school district chooses to put the elementary/middle school on the Community Drive parcel or the as-yet-unpurchased U.S. Route 68 property, both sites would require a water and sewer service tap-in fee, a water and sewer capacity fee and a water meter fee, Crabill said. These are all one-time payments to set up water and sewer service for that particular building.
The city estimates the water and sewer tap-in fees for an estimated 8-inch water and 8-inch sewer main at $6,500 each.
The city estimates the water meter fee to be between $2,100 and $6,600, depending on the size of the water meter. The water meter fee is the cost for the city to purchase the water meter directly from its supplier with no markup, Crabill said. The water meter works for both water and sewer usage measurements, so there is not a separate sewer meter or fee.
The water and sewer capacity fees are estimated at $26,000 each, Crabill said. After 12 months of usage, the water and sewer capacity fees will be reviewed by the city and adjusted based on use. If the initial estimate was too high, the city will refund the excess cost to the school district.
Estimated water and sewer monthly usage costs for the elementary/middle school are $5,300 – $2,500 for water and $2,800 for sewer. Those monthly costs would double if the elementary/middle school building is not annexed into the city, Boettcher said.
The U.S. Route 68 site would have one additional fee, a “Water Frontage Fee” for that specific location. That frontage fee was established by city ordinance several years ago as a method for the city’s water fund to recover the cost of installing the water main in that area, as new customers connected to the system, Crabill said. The estimated cost for this fee is $50,616.65, based on 1,645 lineal feet of frontage and $30.77 charge per lineal foot.
One other potential cost for the U.S. Route 68 site is due to the existing sanitary sewer line. Urbana City Schools Superintendent Charles Thiel said previously it may not be large enough for the elementary/middle school. The city and school district are discussing this issue, Crabill said. There is no information yet on whether the district would have to pay to increase the size of the sanitary sewer line or take other measures for sanitary sewer service.
The Community Drive potential site has a separate cost that the U.S. Route 68 site does not – extending water and sewer lines to the school building. A rough estimated cost of $216,750 for that was compiled early in the project, Thiel said. That estimate involves extending water, storm sewer, sanitary sewer, gas and electrical service to the Community Drive building, but did not include sewer and water connection capacity and tap fees. Costs for extending services would come from the project construction funds, though only the portion extended from the property line to the building would be partially funded by the state, he said.
Estimated water/sewer costs for new high school
Since the high school is being rebuilt on its current site and the connections are there, the water and sewer capacity fees will not be charged at that location, Crabill said. A tap-in fee for water will be based on the size of the water line, but that size is not yet known, he said.
The district would have to purchase any new water meters needed to service the new high school building, Crabill said.
No tap-in fee will be charged for sewer at the new high school, since the same sewer lateral is being used, he said. The demolished buildings will be disconnected from that lateral, and the existing tap-in to the sewer lateral on Washington Avenue will remain in use.
The city does not have estimates for how much water and sewer charges would be for the new high school, Boettcher said.
The high school currently pays an average of $604.07 monthly for both water and sewer at the current high school and an average of $283.84 per month at the junior high north building, Urbana Treasurer Mandy Hildebrand said. The district pays an average of $471.94 per month for water and sewer usage for the gym building at the high school, she said. The averages do not include water and sewer bills for other structures on the high school site, such as the weight room and football field, she said.
Casey S. Elliott may be reached at 937-652-1331 ext. 1772 or on Twitter @UDCElliott.