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CITY COUNCIL: Utility rate increase discussed

December 28, 2011

COLUMBIA CITY — The next step in a proposed utility rate increase was taken last week when the Columbia City Common Council approved the application for a new water rate filing.
The rate increase was initially discussed in September after a one and one-half year study showed that sales volumes are down more than 10 percent since the last increase in 2006.
In 2007, projections for water usage were made and those projections have not been met.
According to Mayor Jim Fleck, there was an anticipated growth expectancy of two percent a year and growth simply stopped.
Fleck also said the recession had an effect on water usage, and the city’s ability to remain compliant. He said those factors make the increase a necessary – even if unwanted – course of action.
“We have been hardly within any margin as required by law,” Fleck said. “At this point, it is extremely prudent that we adjust this.”
The next step is Tuesday’s approval of the application.
It must now be submitted to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), a fact-finding body that hears evidence in cases filed before it and makes decisions based on the evidence presented in those cases.
At the moment, there is no rate increase. This is simply another step in the process, something council-man Walt Crowder wanted to re-iterate.
“To clarify, this is just the application. This is not the actual rate increase. This is still an unknown entity, but we have to start somewhere,” said Crowder. A decision may come sooner, however nothing is expected to take effect until at least April.
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