BRIDGETON — City officials have changed the municipality’s sewer rates following a significant increase in charges imposed by the Cumberland County Utilities Authority

City officials said the CCUA raised its consumption charges from $1.69 to $4.85 per 1,000 gallons used.

Under legislation authorized recently by City Council, local officials cut $5 from the quarterly $115 charged for up to 15,000 gallons.

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The legislation also increased overage fees charged on every 1,000 gallons used in excess of the 15,000-gallon quarterly minimum. The rate went from $2.31 to $5.

“This was a tough decision and there was a lot of debate about how to proceed,” Mayor Albert Kelly said. “While we’re not happy about the increase (charged by the CCUA), we are mindful of the fact that environmental standards on what can be discharged into the (Cohansey) River have gotten a lot tighter, and the costs to comply with state and federal standards have increased dramatically, so these costs get passed down to us.”

While some local landlords have already complained about having to pass on any increased costs to their tenants, city officials said that rental units typically do not use more than the minimum 15,000-gallon mark and often use less water than owner-occupied units.

“Most tenants and individual rental units do not have excess use problems in most quarters,” said city Water & Sewer Superintendent Mark Lavenberg. “Rental units don’t have a problem unless there is a leak or issues with the number of people in a unit.”

City officials said they are still concerned about what the CCUA’s 186 percent fee increase will mean for commercial and business customers.

“This latest increase handed from the CCUA is a lot at one time,” Kelly said. “In fairness, we could not have large-use customers paying less than what we as a community have to pay out to the CCUA.”

One thing city officials said they are doing to help all customers is to replace old utility lines with more efficient lines.

“We have some lines that are in excess of 80 years old in the city,” Lavenberg said.

City officials said they are also urging conservation on the water side of the system as a way to reduce costs on the sewer side of the system.

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