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The Clean Solutions for Omaha (CSO) Program is financed using a 30-year bond and funded through sewer fees which will increase throughout the life of the program. Until 2006, Omaha had not increased sewer fee rates since 1992. The unfunded federal mandate to reduce raw sewage overflows to our streams is scheduled for completion in 2027.
Implementation of the Clean Solutions for Omaha Program will be financed primarily with 30-year revenue bonds issued in periodic increments as approved by the Mayor and City Council. Sewer fees will be used to pay off the bonds over years to come.
On July 15, 2014 the Mayor recommended, and the City Council adopted on a 7-0 vote, a new rate ordinance which took effect January of 2015 and will continue through December 2018.
The sewer fee rate structure was developed with assistance from the City’s rate consultant, Hawksley Consulting, and is necessary to finance Program projects and meet regulatory deadlines.
All residential, commercial and industrial rate payers in the Omaha metro and suburban communities who use the regional sewer system will help pay the estimated $2.2 billion (2015 Dollars) for the required improvements.
It was recognized early in the Program that new rates would be a hardship for some residents. The City took a proactive role and along with the Community Basin Panel formed a sub-committee to determine assistance options for fixed- and low-income residents when rates began to rise.
A rate assistance program is available for residential users who qualify for the existing state energy assistance program (LIHEAP) managed by the Metropolitan Utilities District. The District bills the sewer fees on behalf of the City.
When the Long Term Control Plan was approved, it marked the start of a ratepayer assistance plan to help low income and fixed income households with sewer rate increases necessary to fund the Program.
Ratepayers are eligible if they receive Low Income Heat and Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) from their utility. This has kept administrative costs to a minimum and provided the maximum benefit to those who need it.
From January through August 2017, over $750,367 has been provided in assistance; for a total of $6,207,220 from inception (May 2011) thorugh August 2017.
For assistance or to apply for Nebraska LIHEAP, call (800) 383-4278.