Huntertown's Demand: 3% Rate Increase Cap "Guarantee" Or No Deal

By John W. Davis

October 17, 2011 Updated Oct 17, 2011 at 11:21 PM EDT

HUNTERTOWN, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - Huntertown Council stuck to their strong message for Fort Wayne City Utilities.

If you guarantee a 3% yearly sewage rate increase cap, then you might have a deal.

That was the word from Monday night's Huntertown Council meeting.

Indiana's NewsCenter has been covering this story since June 2011.

At this time, Huntertown leaders said they are still moving forward with their September decision to build their own $11.2 million dollar sewage treatment plant.

Town council members revealed they are moving forward because negotiations to stay with Fort Wayne for sewage service stalled weeks, if not months ago.

Members said Fort Wayne is not offering what they're asking for, which is a guarantee that sewage rates will only increase a maximum of 3% every year.

They also said they've told Fort Wayne time and time again, that they only want offers to run sewage services, not a combined deal to run sewage and drinking water services.

Huntertown Council President Jim Fortman did not attend Monday night's meeting but previously said Huntertown leaders wanted to retain control over drinking water partly because it is a profitable venture for Huntertown.

Meanwhile, council members said Fort Wayne has not listened to them because Fort Wayne City Utilities has continued pitching a proposal to run Huntertown Sewage and Drinking Water services.

Fort Wayne City Utilities Program Manager Ted Nitza wrote a letter to Huntertown Council on October 8, 2011.

In the 21-page document, Nitza said that although City Utilities would prefer to combine sewage and drinking water services to save more money, they have always been willing to discuss only providing sewage services.

However, Nitza said if Fort Wayne was in charge of both, Huntertown would save at least $8 million dollars in construction costs and that Fort Wayne would be willing to "guarantee" a 3% maximum rate increase cap.

But since Huntertown leaders are not budging, Indiana's NewsCenter asked if Fort Wayne City Utilities would be willing to meet Huntertown Council's demands.

"We do anticipate the increases to sanitary sewer rates in this area for Huntertown as a wholesale customer to be more than the three percent," Nitza answered.

"With the addition of drinking water as part of that relationship, we're even willing to go the next step of guaranteeing that rate," Nitza continued.

Meanwhile, Huntertown Council is waiting on approval to use the Geller Ditch for drainage purposed from the Allen County Surveyor and the Allen County Drainage Board.

After that approval, council will work quickly to get approval from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

Council hopes to begin construction in Spring 2012.

They hope to have the plant up and running by April 2013.

For more background information, visit the related content section of this story.

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