Transparency was the emphasis for Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente as he announced a slight increase in ratepayers annual sewage bill.

"We've taken on the task of repairing a system that went far too long without the necessary investments and maintenance," said Anthony Picente in a statement. Picente indicated that the increase has been looming for years and preparations have been made to soften the blow.

Due to 'prudent' savings practices the ratepayer increase won't be as high as it could have been. For a single-person household that averages 13,500 gallons used per year the increase will equate to $5.26 annually. The average four-person household using approximately 55,000 gallons per year will see an annual increase of $21.45. Finally, a family household of six will see an annual increase of $31.59 for just about 81,000 gallons used.

This increase will go towards the vital improvements being made to the Waste Water Treatment Plant. Not only is this project being done for public safety, it is also something that is mandated by the State Department of Environmental Conservation. In 2007 a Consent Order to eliminate sanitary sewer overflows at the Sauquoit Creek Pumping Station.

In addition to improving public safety, these updates will also allow for continued development in Oneida County. Steven Devan is the County Commissioner of Water Quality and Pollution Control. Devan says, "We knew that when it came time to start paying back the debt service on these facility improvements and upgrades that there would be an impact on ratepayers. With this in mind, we were conservative in our spending and saved our surpluses to be able to make increases more gradual and manageable."

Although rates may continue to rise, it will be in smaller increments so that ratepayers can be prepared.