The Lehigh County Authority (LCA) has begun mailing notices to customers that it intends to implement monthly rates and billing for all City of Allentown customers in August 2018.
As you know, the lease of the city’s water and sewer system with LCA was important to the City to allow it to address its massive pension liability and to avoid significant tax increases to our residents that would be needed to fund that liability. The lease is a very lengthy and complex document which provides for limits on rate increases while allowing for recovery by LCA of capital improvement costs to the water and sewer systems and for limited annual inflationary rate increases. The letter from LCA however is disingenuous because it advises of a switch to monthly billing based on a rate schedule without disclosing that the new rates will be substantially higher on an annualized basis compared to current bills. The new rates will increase fixed charges 107% for the average residential water and sewer customer which is estimated this year to cost an extra $13 per month.
The City has retained special counsel to deal with this and other issues and we believe that the large rate increase buried in this letter is unjustified and does not reflect the terms of the lease. We intend to take any and all legal remedies that are available to the City to prevent this unreasonable rate increase and we will do so promptly, well in advance of the August billing cycle. We are as frustrated as our residents and we are working with our counsel to move quickly to address this rate increase. We know that we are not a wealthy City given the average household income. We know how difficult a rate increase can be on our residents. Our goal is to allow the City to continue on its successful path of economic development and not do anything to make our City a less attractive place to live and work.
We will take quick action against this unfair rate increase and we know that we have the community’s support in doing so.