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Corydon water, sewer rates going up

Corydon water, sewer rates going up Corydon water, sewer rates going up
Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor, Editor, [email protected]

It’s been nine years since the Town of Corydon raised its sewer rates and even longer — 22 years — since water rates were increased.

“We have a lot of aging infrastructure,” Rand Heazlitt, the town’s manager, said during Monday night’s town council meeting. “Some in excess of 100 years.”

He added that the increases are being made for a reason, not just to raise rates.

“There are some massive upgrades that need to be done in the next calendar year,” Heazlitt said.

Attorney Chris Janak, who is working with the town on the water and sewer rates, as well as bonds to pay for improvements, said those renovations have to be paid for somehow.

“You have to decide if the rates are enough to pay for them,” he said.

The reason the council opted to issue bonds for some of the work is two-fold: interest rates are at a historic low, Heazlitt said, and it leaves cash on hand for other needs that may arise.

One step the town took to save money was opting out of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.

To Councilwoman Rachel Baelz’s question about how much money was saved from that action, Heazlitt said, “About $70,000.”

Council president Eva Bates North said it’s not unusual for towns to regulate their water and sewer utilities. She cited that Cory-
don’s rates are among the lowest in the area.

Town resident Rhonda Rhoads asked why the increases are being made in 2019 when some of the board members have been in their positions for quite some time.

Treggie King, who’s been the town’s clerk-treasurer for 11 years, said while the former town “mayor,” Fred Cammack, was great at saving money, he did not want to raise rates. Then, when Cammack resigned and John D. Kintner became board president, the council began talking about increases to have funds for improvements.

North said she launched some projects when she took office. “There were some things that needed to be done,” she said.

Donnie Brown, who owns several rental properties in town, also questioned the urgency of raising rates if the infrastructure has been falling apart for some time.

“Why can’t this be done in smaller amounts” over a few years?” he asked.

Brown said many of his renters live from paycheck to paycheck now and doesn’t know how they will pay for the increase for something that’s needed.

“Why not tell people what the rates will be?” Brown asked.

While the final numbers are not yet available, Heazlitt yesterday afternoon (Tuesday) provided some comparisons, saying the final rates likely will be lower than these estimates but it gives utility customers some idea of what the increases will look like.

Based on usage of 2,000 gallons, one’s residential bill would increase from $21.72 a month to $38.04 for the same time frame.

Rates for businesses are calculated on different rates, which also will be increased. And, residents who receive water from the town but live outside the town limits would see a larger increase.

“All the rates are based on the community’s needs and comprehensive plan,” Heazlitt said at Monday night’s meeting.

He added that once the town has an asset management plan in place, some funding from other sources would become available.

“We’d be in a situation where we won’t have to raise rates,” Heazlitt said. “We can be proactive.”

To those in attendance who oppose the rate increases, North said, “I know we’re on the hot seat, but we’re doing it. It’s vital to the water and sewer utilities. I hate that this is a bump; we have other bumps.”

After reviewing the water rate and sewer rate ordinances, the town council voted 4-0 (Chris Mattingly was absent) to amend the current fees. The new rates would become effective immediately the new water rate would not be implemented until Jan. 1, while the increased sewer rate would begin July 1.

There will be a public hearing Monday, Oct. 7, at 7 p.m. at the Corydon Town Hall to discuss the water rate adjustments. That will be followed by a public hearing at 7:45 to discuss the sewer rate adjustments.