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Lanesville’s water rate to go up 66 percent

Lanesville will increase water rates by 66 percent to provide debt service on an upcoming $2.55 million water project.
A 90-percent increase had been proposed, but customers attending a public hearing Monday night said they preferred a lower monthly rate over long-term interest savings they might never live to see.
Sewer and trash collection rates will not be affected.
The alternative to the 40-year loan and 66-percent rate increase was a 20-year loan with $874,000 in interest savings and a 90-percent rate increase.
‘I know the project needs to be done. I think you oughta go for the 40-year loan because I won’t be around to pay for that,’ said 72-year-old Bill Hussung, who gave the first public comment, one that would be heard several times during the 90-minute hearing.
‘Interest savings are nice if you are around to save it,’ followed Donnie Hussung, Bill Hussung’s nephew and president of the Lanesville Community School Corp. School Board of Trustees.
He, too, offered support for the 40-year plan.
Town council members had expected opposition because Lanesville’s sewer rates are already among the highest in the state with a base charge of $19.69 and a flow charge of $7.36 per 1,000 gallons.
In contrast, Corydon has a residential base charge of $3.85 for sewer and a flow charge of $2.95 per 1,000 gallons.
But the nearly 30 people at the meeting never questioned the need for the project. They did, however, question the scope and funding mechanisms.
Funding for the water project consists of the Rural Development loan for $1.392 million; a $550,000 grant from Harrison County riverboat revenue; $108,000 of water company funding, and a $500,000 Community Focus Fund grant.
The project cost was projected at $2.15 million a year ago, but bids came in higher than expected. The Rural Development loan was increased by $433,000 to account for the bulk of the difference.
Michael J. Mathias of Midwestern Engineers in Loogootee said Hurricane Katrina was largely to blame for the cost increase. Escalating petroleum costs had driven up prices for both PVC pipe and steel in the hurricane’s aftermath, he said.
The town is experiencing a 35 percent water loss. The industry prefers a loss of no more than five to 10 percent loss with a maximum of 15 percent considered acceptable, Mathias said.
The project, he said, could reduce loss by as much as 30 percent and save the town about $8,800 annually.
The water project includes:
‘ Replacing 43,000 feet of three- and four-inch diameter pipes with six- and eight-inch diameter 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, Mathias said.
Current water charges in Lanesville, prior to the upcoming increase, are $7.80 per 1,000 gallons for the first 3,000 gallons for in-town customers. Since there is a 2,000-gallon minimum, customers pay at least $15.60 plus six percent sales tax.
Corydon’s base residential water charge is $2.05 and a flow charge of $2.74 per 1,000 gallons per the first 10,000 gallons. Corydon has no minimum use fee but does have a separate fire protection charge of $1.15 per month. Its rates are among the lowest in the state.
The Indiana Utilities Regulatory Commission considers 4,000 gallons as average use for a household of four.
Growth in the customer base was not likely to be a major factor in reducing water rates in the future, said town council member Herb Schneider. Lanesville Water Co. is landlocked by other service areas and has limited space in which to extend service, he said.
Schneider led the meeting as acting council president in place of Don Hamblin. Hamblin recently suffered a stroke and his return to the board is unlikely, Schneider said as he called on those in attendance to keep Hamblin in their prayers.