COLUMBUS – State Rep. Tom Brinkman (R-27th District) yesterday announced the House passage of House Bill 163, legislation that that protects Ohioans by penalizing municipal corporations that charge higher fees for water and sewer services in other subdivisions.
“Municipalities have the power under the Ohio Constitution to supply water to non-residents at prices of their choosing,” said Brinkman. “However, that doesn’t mean the State of Ohio needs to subsidize this monopolistic behavior.”
The legislation creates a process in which municipalities would be penalized if they charge higher rates not justified by generally accepted municipal water pricing practices or require direct payments as a condition of providing the service in addition to the costs for extending the service.
Under the bill, local government funds earmarked for the municipalities in violation of the bill’s provisions would be redistributed to the jurisdictions affected by the improper pricing policies. Non-compliant municipalities would also be disqualified for state water and sewer development assistance.
Speaking on the House floor, Brinkman cited the City of Cincinnati’s history of requesting excessive surcharges from its suburban neighbors through water pricing contracts.
“H.B. 163 will provide a framework to resolve this and many other similar cases of municipal rate gouging in Ohio,” added Brinkman. “I’m proud to sponsor legislation that will save my constituents money on their water bills.”
In addition, the bill was amended in House Public Utilities Committee to include provisions that create a safe harbor for municipalities charging non-residents no more than 125% above resident rates and ensure the legislation has no effect on existing contracts.
H.B. 163 has the support of the Ohio Township Association and Hamilton County Township Association.
The legislation now heads to the Senate for further consideration.