Rate hikes probable soon on Linton water, sewers

Monday, June 20, 2011

Whether Linton wins funding for a pair of proposed projects aimed at improving the sewer and water systems or not, a rate increase for both services is soon likely just to maintain operating costs.

No rate increase has been passed as yet, though the city council moved forward last week to apply for the sewer and water improvement funding.

Much of that would be loans, repaid through a rate increase.

Rate analysis presented during Monday's special session of the city council provided officials with a better idea what could be in store.

How much those increases will actually be, however, or when they will be in place remains to be seen.

A gradual rate increase, phased in over time, could better the city's chances for grant applications, said Jim Frazell, president of Triad Associates.

The present average monthly sewer bill in Linton is $24.96 for 4,000 gallons.

Under a projected 10 percent increase necessary to cover current costs, that projected average bill would increase to $27.46, a bump of 10 percent, or $2.50.

Should the city receive funding from the State Revolving Fund for $5.2 million in improvements to the system, bills would increase about another 20 percent over that increase. That means an average monthly bill of $32.45, a bump of $7.49 over current average costs.

Should funding be denied, the city would only require the 10 percent increase needed to cover operating expenses, per discussion.

However, without the proposed improvements, the city could soon face sanctions from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM).

Presently, its sewer use is at more than 90 percent of current capacity, which could quickly bring the city a warning from IDEM.

If the problems persist, a sewer ban could be imposed by IDEM prohibiting new homes or businesses from connecting to the city sewers until problems are corrected.

A water rate increase is also likely whether a $4.7 million proposal to improve the city's waterworks is approved or not, due to money needed to current cover operating costs.

Should the city only want to maintain the status quo, the present average monthly bill of $12.96 for 4,000 gallons usage is likely to increase to around $15.55, a jump of $2.59 per month, or 20 percent.

However, if funding's approved for improvements the average monthly water rate is likely to increase to $20.74, an overall jump of $7.78, or 60 percent over current monthly rates.

Percentages of increase, however, don't tell the tale, said Triad Associates President Jim Frazell.

"If you've got a water bill of $1 and it increases to $2, that's a rate increase of 100 percent, and that looks bad on paper, but really, it's not."

Those improvements are likely to also be necessary, Frazell told the council, because of problems such as 59 non-functioning fire hydrants in the city which could lead to lawsuits.

Mayor Patti Jones said the city has some of the lowest current rates in the state.

The last rate hikes occurred around 2005, per discussion.

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  • well if you were at the meeting the comments that were made by the council were enough...

    -- Posted by Incorde hominum es anima legis on Tue, Jun 21, 2011, at 2:41 PM
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