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MSD rate increase to be decided in June

By Maria Hickey, KWMU

St. Louis, MO. – The rates customers pay for both wastewater and stormwater could see significant increases if the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District gets its way.

MSD proposed the rate increases to the 15-member Rate Commission early this month. That body is expected to make a decision by late June.

The average residential customer pays about $22 a month for wastewater services. Under the proposal the average bill would go up to nearly $37 a month by 2011.

MSD spokesman Lance LeComb says the sewer district has a lot of work to do to meet state and federal environmental regulations.

"Yes, they are large increases, we recognize that," LeComb said. "But our worry is the federal government will come in and dictate that we have to spend more money in a shorter amount of time, therefore, making our rates even higher."

But MSD watchdog Tom Sullivan says the agency should spend a bigger share of existing funds on meeting the Clean Water standards.

Despite that, Sullivan says the Rate Commission is likely to approve the rate increases.

Len Toenjes, the commission's chairman, says they've hired an independent rate consultant and will hold several technical and public hearings before making a decision.

"We can say yes as it is, no, start over again, or no, here's how we think it should," Toenjes said. "It's no rubber stamp."