The Two Harbors City Council has approved a 2.5 percent increase to the 2019 water and sewer fees, effective Jan. 1.

The motion was passed unanimously at the Nov. 13 meeting, with councilor Cathy Erickson absent.

In 2015, the city switched from a flat-rate system to a meter-rate system. Based on a study conducted at the time, a rate increase of 5.5 percent was recommended for 2019. However, city finance director Miranda Pietila said a 2.5 percent increase was sufficient to cover operating costs.

The base fee will increase from $22.43 to $22.99.

For an average two-person home that uses approximate 2,970 gallons per month, the total costs will increase about $77.54 to $79.48, based on average usage.

For a four-person home using approximately 6,510 gallons, the rate will go from $125.20 to $128.31.

For a commercial business that uses about 15,400 gallons, the rates will increase about $240.89 to $246.90.

Rates for utility services are based entirely on the city's costs for operating and maintaining its utility systems and services. The rates pay for the treatment of water to all Two Harbors residences and businesses.

The city completed an approximately $5 million project in 2016 for the water plant, so it needs to cover the debt service for the water fund.