Nitro residents can expect to pay more for sewer services rendered by the Nitro Regional Waste Water Utility starting early next year.
City Council members voted unanimously Tuesday to adopt an 11.5 percent increase for sewer services. The increase takes effect Feb. 1.
The last rate increase was in 2005. Operating costs have gone up since then and the first phase of increases is planned to cover those costs.
New customers will also be charged a $70 security deposit that will be credited to the customer's account or returned after one year.
The average monthly bill will go up $3.91 after the first phase.
The second increase of 7 percent will take effect in February 2014, increasing the average monthly bill by another $2.66.
Revenues from the second phase will cover the costs of an $8.3 million sewer system upgrade. The project includes extending sewer services to Blakes Creek and Eastwood Acres.
Council members also referred a proposed change to the police department's rank structure to the Civil Service Commission for review. If the commission gives its approval, Mayor Dave Casebolt could implement it at his leisure.
Police Chief Brian Oxley requested the change.
"This is a policy change. I think it's the best for the city, I think it's the best for the department, and I think it needs to change," Oxley said.
The department switched from three eight-hour shifts to four 12-hour shifts last year. The current rank structure does not allow for the necessary number of supervisors to cover a 12-hour shift and also fill positions with a supervisor when one needs to fill in.
"Overall, we have times right now where we don't have the ability to have a supervisor out at all times," Oxley said.
The new structure would eliminate the position of corporal and add the position of deputy chief. Those currently serving as corporals would be promoted to sergeant. He said the rank of corporal is "not a recognized supervisory rank."
He said the new structure would bring the department up to policy standards.
The two promotions that will take place under the new rank structure will increase costs to the police department by about $10,800 annually, he said.
During council comments Councilwoman-at-Large, Brenda Tyler, announced that 300 food/toy baskets will be given out to needy Nitro residents on Thursday.
Tyler and others have worked all year with the United Way and local churches to prepare the baskets for those in need.
"Nitro likes to take care of its own," Tyler said about those involved with the project.
The baskets will include food for one month and three toys for the children.