COLUMBIA CITY — With an eye on the future, the Columbia City Common Council discussed the possibility of increases to sewer rates.
Jeff Rowe of H.J. Umbaugh was at Tuesday’s council meeting and gave a presentation on where the city is at with the sewage department. Phase II-B of the Long-Term Control Plan is set for construction in 2019, with planning scheduled for 2017. With the current estimated price tag between $7 and 10 million, Rowe was consulting the city on the next steps to take.
Previous input from citizens regarding water bills indicated residents would prefer rate increases be stair-stepped in, as opposed to being hit with one big increase. With that in mind, Rowe’s presentation showed what would happen if steady increases were given between now and 2019.
Rates currently average $50 per household. The end goal of Phase II-B would have rates near $68.70, and at about $75.25 by the end of Phase II-C (2023). While the increase might seem large to some, Rowe said it is all in line with trends.
“This is a conversation many of these communities (around Indiana) are having,” he said. “‘How are we going to take on these multi-million dollar projects?’ They all end up in the $75 to $100 range per month. That is where sewer bills are heading. That is where they are trending unless there is some sort of grant or funding. Unless your customer base grows (to subsidize the increases).”
Rowe was also quick point out this was an estimate. The further out one projects the more difficult it is to be accurate. The project being further out could also work in the city’s favor.
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