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Milltown sewer rates to increase for the first time in 14 years

Hike to help fund new treatment plant
Milltown sewer rates to increase for the first time in 14 years Milltown sewer rates to increase for the first time in 14 years
Chris Adams, Contributing Writer

During a public hearing following its regular monthly meeting on July 13 at American Legion Post 332, the Milltown Town Council voted to increase sewer rates for the first time in 14 years. The hike is in part to help fund the town’s new wastewater treatment plant.

The adopted rate schedule — based on water meter size — is as follows: 5/8-inch, $34.51; 1-inch, $49.42; 1-1/2, $79.09; and 2-inch, $301.61. The treatment charge per 1,000 gallons is $7.67.

It replaces the schedule adopted on May 6, 2006: 5/8-inch, $24.30; 1-inch, $34.80; 1-1/2, $55.70; and 2-inch, $212.40. The treatment charge per 1,000 gallons was $5.40.

The connection charge remains at actual cost but not less than $500.

Most residences have a 5/8-inch water meter.

A first reading of the ordinance was approved 3-0 at a special meeting on June 22.

The town earlier this year received a grant up to $658,000 from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs to help fund the approximately $1.6 million project. What isn’t covered by the OCRA grant, including the required 20% local match, is to be paid for with a low-interest $940,000 State Revolving Fund loan.

“This, too, just brings us up to 14 years of not having a rate increase,” Jerry Mackey, the council’s president, said of the new rate schedule.

Doug Baldessari of Baker Tilly, the project’s rate consultant, recommended municipalities review their sewer rates every three or four years.

“There’s going to be some rate shock here because we’re jumping way up,” he said, referring to the gap in between rate increases.

“So, the way we need to go in thinking of it is, this just gets us to where we needed to have been a long time ago,” Councilwoman Jeanie Melton said. “I mean, this is not just a fix for the new sewer plant.”

Bob Woosley of project engineer Heritage Engineering said there is a chance rates may need to be increased even more to fund the project. He noted that all three construction bids opened earlier during the regular meeting exceeded the amount estimated in the project budget.

“We’ll have to follow up because we’re over budget on our low bid,” Woosley said. “So, we’ll have to see how that impacts a need for any future increases.”

Of the three bids submitted, Pace Contracting’s was the lowest at $1,689,000, followed by Mitchell & Stark Construction at $1,598,000 and Thieneman Construction Inc. at $1,852,000.

“This does exceed the amount that was approved overall as the budget amount,” Woosley said after reading the bids during the regular meeting. “I think the construction budget was $1,330,000. So, we’ll have to meet back with OCRA on that to figure out what we do from there … and, at that time, you can make a decision on the award of the contract.”

Following a motion and second by members Melton and Justin Barnes, the council voted 3-0 to take the bids under advisement.

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