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By KEVIN KOELLING
CANNELTON – The $4.59 paid by a Cannelton resident to have 1,000 gallons of sewage treated each month would rise to $5.83 this year under an ordinance city officials are considering.
City-council members introduced the ordinance at a March 11 meeting and scheduled a public hearing for 6:50 p.m. April 8 at City Hall to discuss it.
If enacted, the change would first be reflected on bills mailed May 1 or later. In addition to the increase proposed for this year, the per-1,000-gallons rate would rise to $6 next year, by another 18 cents in 2015 and to $6.37 the following year.
The initial change would be a 27 percent increase. The above figures are for Class 1 users, which include residential, commercial, governmental, institutional and industrial properties except commercial car washes, defined as Class 2; Can-Clay, Class 3 and Schwab Safe Co., Class 4. All classes would see 27-percent rate hikes this year.
Current rates are specified in the public-utilities chapter, Title 10 of the city’s code book. It’s available online at www.ind15rpc.org by clicking “Code Books,” then “Cannelton.”
The current rates were established in a ordinance enacted a decade ago, and council members said in discussing the need to update their rates the long lag time between updates would mean a higher initial increase. As the News reported Jan. 22, Councilwoman Kim Reed reminded the council a utility-rate hike of more than 30 percent was imposed several years ago after a similar period without increases.
“When you don’t raise it on a regular basis, the raises that come,” city attorney John Werner said at the Jan. 14 council meeting, “frankly, you’re catching up with the past.”
“This isn’t a project the city wants to do,” Utilities Superintendent Phillip Ball said. “This is a project the state says you have to do.” He was referring to a mandate handed to all Indiana communities where heavy precipitation could flush the contents of sanitary-sewer lines into public water systems.
In addition to the usage rates, monthly rates based on the sizes of water meters serving properties are charged. For a five-eighths or three-quarter-inch meter, the current $6.76 monthly charge would climb to $8.59 this year if the increase is adopted, another 27-percent hike. Subsequent years would see increases to $8.84, $9.11 and $9.38
Similar increases for larger lines – ranging from 1 to 6 inches – are reflected in a legal advertisement published in the News March 18.