The City of Neosho has changed the way it bills for sewer, now charging residents a set amount each month.
Each resident's monthly sewer rate is an average of their usage from the previous year, said city manager Troy Royer.
He said the change went into effect with the most recent bill.
Royer said each individual user rate will be re-figured every September, with the rates following the city's fiscal year, running from October through September.
"It's not changing the rate, the rate's not increasing or decreasing," Royer said. "Each individual bill is averaged off their usage only."
Royer said the sewer rates are set by the Department of Natural Resources, and that charging residents for their average usage as opposed to their actual usage is the only way the city could offer some relief to residents paying higher summer bills.
"Your sewer is based off water usage and in the summer, everybody's taking more showers, they're working outside, they're watering," Royer said. "By having to pay that higher bill through the summer months discourages you from keeping flowers and by doing it level throughout the whole year on that average, where you're going to pay the same the whole year, it'll encourage people to not worry so much."
Royer said users may see their winter bills go up compared to in the past, due to the average amount being based on the annual usage.
However, he said users will still be able to see their actual usage amount, as it will be included in each bill.
"If you look at your water bill, it will show what the actual is and then right underneath of that is the average and it tells you the difference between both," Royer said.
He said the change has been in the works for at least a year, and that city staff had looked into how area cities bill for sewer as well, and found that many, including Joplin, also charge for sewer at an average rate.
Royer said as the city's sewer rate is set by DNR, the only change the department will allow cities to make is to charge an average individual rate.
"DNR specifications say that it has to be on an individual-by-individual basis and you can't opt out, it's all or none," Royer said. "It's not a city-wide average. We had to actually go in and look at all 5,000-plus billing customers, one at a time, figure up what their average was and then apply that average into the system."
Royer noted that the city also offers irrigation meters for those using large amounts of water, for tasks such as filling a swimming pool.
Residents have the option of going to city hall and putting a deposit down for an irrigation meter, so that the meter is isolated to only water filling the pool, and the large water usage does not impact the sewer usage.
Page 2 of 2 - For more information, contact the Neosho City Hall at 451-8050.