Akron will raise water rates 9.5 percent Saturday the city's first water rate increase in six years.
Rates will go up another 8 percent annually in the next two years, for a total, cumulative hike of nearly 28 percent over three years.
The average cost for a family of four will rise $1.70 a month this year and about $5 a month at the end of three years. The average bill is currently $17.92 and will rise to $22.87 after the increases.
''It's not like we're doubling the rates,'' said Service Director Rick Merolla. ''We've tried to do everything we can to hold costs down.''
The rate hikes don't need Akron City Council approval.
Akron water customers will see the first increase in their June bills. The bills include the combined cost for water, trash and sewer, which also went up this year. Sewer rates rose 25 percent this year and will nearly double in the next four years to fund improvements required to settle a federal environmental lawsuit.
City leaders say the water rate hikes were needed because of a dip in revenue caused by the downturn in the economy, combined with an increase in costs, such as chemicals and utilities.
The rate increases will raise $2.5 to $3 million a year in additional revenue, Merolla said.
The money will be used for capital projects, including replacing water mains, installing a new electrical substation at the water plant and repainting a water tank, and to comply with environmental regulations, said Mike McGlinchy, Akron's public utilities bureau manager.