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Lanesville looks at 90 percent water rate hike

A proposed increase that would nearly double rates for Lanesville water customers will be discussed Nov. 14 at the Lanesville Junior-Senior High School portable building at 6 p.m. The increase is intended to provide debt service on an upcoming $2.55 million water project.
Last year, the Lanesville Town Council described a pay-now-or-pay-later dilemma. The town has averaged a water-line break every 13 days the past six years. Some of the town’s water lines have been aging in Franklin Township’s soil for a century, council members said.
The water project includes: replacing 43,000 feet of three- and four-inch pipes with six- and eight-inch pipes; replacing 30 fire hydrants and adding 43 new hydrants and valves to the system; and constructing a new, elevated 200,000-gallon water tank, said Michael J. Mathias of Midwestern Engineers.
‘They are exhibiting high water losses, which require the town to pay for water unaccounted for. The new lines will reduce the water loss and operating and maintenance loss to the user. The additional fire hydrants will be placed throughout the user base to afford better fire protection,’ Mathias said.
The 43 new valves will limit ser-vice loss to a minority of customers when a leak develops, Mathias said.
‘They get a leak down on Main Street, they have to shut the whole town down’ under the current system, he said.
Funding for the project consists of a Rural Development loan for $1.392 million, a $550,000 grant from Harrison County riverboat revenue, $108,000 of water company funding on hand from the Lanesville reservoir sale, and a $500,000 Community Focus Fund grant.
The project cost was estimated at $2.15 million a year ago, but bids came in higher than expected, Mathias said. The Rural Development loan was increased by $433,000 to account for the bulk of the difference.
The loan has been financed for 20 years rather than a possible 40 years, council member Jim Gossett said, so that the proportionately large elderly population of Lanesville wouldn’t be saddled with the debt.
Choosing the 20-year term will save the town $500,000 in interest, but the decision resulted in the forfeiture of a $75,000 grant and a higher proposed rate increase. A 40-year term would’ve required an increase of 66 percent, said Linda Smith, town clerk-treasurer.
Another factor in the proposed rate was a rate increase by Edwardsville Water Co., from which Lanesville buys its water. The increase of 16 percent, which occurred two years ago, was not passed on to customers but it has been eroding a cash balance that was acquired with the sale of the reservoir.
Pending approval, actual billing changes include an increase from $7.80 to $14.85 per 1,000 gallons for the first 3,000 gallons for in-town customers. Each additional 1,000 gallons would cost $14.25. Since there is a 2,000- gallon minimum, customers would pay at least $29.70 plus six percent sales tax.
Those living out of town would see an increase from $8.58 to $16.33 per 1,000 for the first 3,000 gallons. Each additional 1,000 would cost $15.67. A 2,000-gallon minimum also applies.