“That’s a lot of money to be asking our citizens to take out.” Terre Haute councilman on potential sewer rate hike

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TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – Working to keep money in your pockets. This as local leaders are looking at cheaper options to avoid a hike in sewer rates.

“For the community to buy into it, it has to be a joint effort between the two,” said Councilman Karrum Nasser, with the Terre Haute City Council.

If you live inside city limits, your sewer bill could go up by as much as a third.

Mayor Duke Bennett says the extra funding is needed for two reasons.  One, the Indiana Finance Authority requires all present and future bonds for the long term control plan be funded at 125% of the project’s cost. Two, the increase will allow the sanitary district to bond Phase 2 of the project (Phase 1 is nearly complete). Mayor Bennett asks readers of this article to keep in mind the long term control plan is an EPA-mandated project, and the city could be subjected to steep fines if the plan is not followed.

The new proposal? A 33% increase in sewer fees, which would raise the average household bill by about $12.

“It’s going to be some new fees. We just got to make sure it’s something everybody can agree to. We’re already to move on. I really feel good about this next week, and I think we’ll be able to make some headway,” said Mayor Duke Bennett.

“Here four years later we’re asking the citizens to do another 33%, so I think it was just a big sticker shock that it was going to be an 85% sewer rate increase in the past four-years,” said Nasser.

Mayor Bennett said he is willing to present the council with more options. One would include a hybrid plan. Residents would be looking at a rate increase in both storm water and sewer fees. Of course, each would be lower than the previously projected rates.

“We might still go back to the 33%, but I think we need to table it for November, so we can have all the options on the table and then come up with a resolution,” said Nasser.

City leaders can all agree a solution needs to be reached, one that benefits everybody, including you at home.

“That’s a lot of money we’re asking our citizens to take out. Me, as a councilman, I just want to make sure that we’re just asking for what we need and not a dime more,” said Nasser.

“I think this next week will be big for us to find out what those things are the council wants, so we can bring it down some but not get below that number. We have to raise $5.6-million dollars a year in new revenue. We have no choice. We have to get to that number, and I think we can do it,” said Mayor Bennett.

The sanitary board will vote on the increase next Tuesday. If it passes, then the proposal will come to the city council.

If you want to voice your concerns, the board will hold a public hearing on October 11th. Discussion will start at 10 a.m. inside City Hall.