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Sunday, July 5, 2015

Final approval granted for water, sewer increase

Friday, September 15, 2006

Greencastle residents will notice a change when they go to pay their water and sewer bills next month.

Following a decision by the Greencastle City Council Tuesday night, water rates are headed up 47 percent and sewer rates are set to increase by 15 percent.

Officials made their decision based on a rate study that was performed earlier this summer by Indianapolis company Crowe-Chizek, however, they have talked about the need to raise revenues for more than a year.

Mayor Nancy Michael said the new rates will take effect in October.

The average customer -- those who use 700 cubic feet or 5,236 gallons of water per month -- will see their monthly water rate go from $14.49 to $21.28.

The same customers can expect their monthly sewage rate to increase from $31.50 to $36.26, for a combined increase of $11.55 per month.

Customers who use a minimum amount of water every month -- 100 cubic feet or 748 gallons -- will see a total increase of just $4.41.

Council members Bob Sedlack, Tom Roach, Mark Hammer, Russ Evans and John Lanie voted unanimously to approve the change to the water rate.

The vote to approve new sewage rates, however, was slightly different.

Councilman Roach said he would not support the sewer rate increase because he felt the Toddson Drive/J-Mar sewage extension project, which is included in the sewage department's capital improvement plan for 2009, should be moved back.

"I think you're overextending the people on a fixed income for a project that doesn't need to be done at this time," Roach said.

Other Council members argued that the area was annexed by the city approximately 20 years ago and that the city is behind on its obligation to provide necessary services to residents there.

The cost to construct the J-Mar project has been estimated at $1,141,000.

Tuesday night's vote on the new rates didn't come without regrets being expressed by members of the Council.

"I still wish we didn't have to pass this along," Hammer said.

In August, Hammer voted against the first reading of the rate increase, stating that he wanted to see additional cuts made in the water and sewer budgets.

On Tuesday, however, he along with other council members agreed that they couldn't put off the increase any longer, especially since it has been eight years since the last water rate increase was approved and five years since the last sewer increase.

"We're caught between a rock and a hard place," Hammer said.

Mayor Michael has said, on several occasions, that the increases are necessary to help both departments cover their monthly operation and maintenance expenses as well as provide funding for capital projects that are outlined in the departments' seven-year plans.

"It (the rates) will have to be looked at every year unquestionably," Michael told the Board of Works in July. "It is conceivable that there will have to be another increase just to meet O and M (operation and maintenance) costs."

The rate increases that were approved this week are expected to cover expenses for the remainder of this year as well as next year, Michael reiterated to the Council Tuesday.

Council members made one addition to the new rate ordinances since approving them on first reading in August.

The Board of Works, which oversees the city's utilities, will now be required to revisit the water and sewer rates every two years and report that information to the Council for possible increases.

Council members agreed they did not want to wait nearly as long to approve a rate increase next time.

In other business, the Council:

-- Approved a request for the 32nd annual Berry Street Festival set for Saturday, Oct. 7. As in the past years, the city granted a request for exemption of the parking regulation on the south of the street during the festival.

-- Approved a request for DePauw University's annual Old Gold Parade, scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7. The city granted permission to temporarily close Hanna Street for the parade route.

The Greencastle City Council meets at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month at city hall.



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