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Mitchell Residents Could See Sewer Rate Increase
Updated March 5, 2015 6:49 AM | Filed under: Utilities
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(MITCHELL) - The City of Mitchell will hold a public hearing on the proposed sewer rate increase at 7 p.m. on March 26 at City Hall.

This meeting will provide residents a chance to voice their opinion on the waste water treatment plant upgrades and subsequent cost to users.

The city council will make a decision on whether or not to raise sewer fees after the hearing.

City officials are proposing a 45 percent rate hike to upgrade the aging waste water treatment plant. The plant has not been upgraded since 1987.

The Times Mail reports that Steve Gress of Donohue and Associates, the engineering firm working on the plan to upgrade the plant, said the scope of the project has been cut down considerably over the past several months to bring the cost down to $3,309,477. The repairs to the Meridian Road facility will include replacing the aging equipment, but no new structural improvements.

Gress explained to the Mitchell City Council that currently the city cannot submit two required monthly reports to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management because of failed equipment.

If all goes as planned, construction could begin in early May and be complete in June 2016. Layne Heavy Civil Inc. of Orleans was the low bidder for the project when bids were opened in November.

The city plans to apply for a $2.8 million loan from the State Revolving Loan fund at an interest rate of about 2.25 percent. The utility department, which operates on user fees, not tax dollars, will put $500,000 toward the project.

The city will be required to pay about $171,000 per year in debt service repayments to the state for the next 20 years. However, since the department's revenue won't cover operating costs, plus the debt service payment, residents of Mitchell would shoulder the burden with increased user fees.

Proposed Increases:

  • A 3,000-gallon sewer user in Mitchell now pays $18.55 a month for sewer. Under the proposed rate, he would pay $8.34 more for a total of $26.89.
  • A 4,000-gallon user would go from $22.18 per month to $32.15, an increase of $9.97 per month.
  • A 5,000-gallon user now pays $25.81 a month, but would pay $37.41, an increase of $11.60 a month.

Mayor Gary Pruett explained to the council Monday night that they would have to pass an ordinance approving the rate increase.

He explained the council could pass the ordinance on a first reading Monday night, then it would go to a public hearing and special council meeting where the council could vote to approve or deny the increase.

The Times-Mail reported that none of the five city council members -- Vicky Schlegel, Nancy Miller, Matt England, Joey Slone and Everett Ferrel -- questioned the increase or stepped forward to make the motion to pass the rule. They sat quietly for about 20 minutes, through a few attempts by the mayor to explain that passing the ordinance didn't mean their decision was final - it just allowed it to move to the public hearing stage.

Ferrel and Schlegel were frustrated about the rate increase and that is was just now being discussed.

Finally, Miller made the motion, which was seconded by England. All five council members approved the first reading of the ordinance.

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