CLEVELAND -- A makeover of the Cleveland Water Department operations is saving enough money that it may give customers some long-term relief from rate increases.
Cleveland water users have been used to 7 percent a year increases for decades to finance $1.6. billion of improvements.
New increases which passed in 2011 and through 2015 will boost the typical Cleveland user's rates 82 percent over five years, with suburban rates jumping 50 percent.
But more efficent practices and better collection rates are bringing in $14 million of new money.
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson says that if that keeps up, the department will have enough money to pay its debts, build new facilities and give customers a time-out from new increases starting in 2016.
That would mean rates at the end of 2015 could remain in effect through 2020.
The department has made big improvements in collecting overdue bills and identified thousands of customers that never got regular bills.
New water meters that will improve efficiency and more accurately measure usage are being installed for all customers. That should mean more accurate bills