New Haven Residents Facing 37% Water Rate Hike

By John W. Davis

May 10, 2011 Updated May 10, 2011 at 11:18 PM EDT

NEW HAVEN, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - A 37% water rate increase. That's what New Haven city leaders are considering passing on to residents for repairs.

The New Haven City Council held their bi-weekly meeting Tuesday night at New Haven City Hall.

The water rate increase was supposed to be approved a few months ago.

However, a possible Fort Wayne water rate increase forced the New Haven City Council to table the issue.

During Tuesday night's meeting, council members brought the issue back to life.

At least one council member said he wanted a "lower" rate increase, in consideration for people on fixed incomes.

City leaders are officially considering six options to pay for new water pipes in New Haven.

City engineers have determined that New Haven has about six million dollars of pipes that need to be replaced.

To do that, the New Haven Water Department would need $6.3 million dollars.

That would call for a 65% water rate increase.

City leaders knew 65% would not be approved, so they have made plans according to a 37% water rate increase, which would bring in $3.3 million dollars.

Meanwhile, council members are only one step away from approving the 37% rate increase.

Councilman Roger Clayton made a motion to vote at Tuesday's meeting.

However, his motion did not receive any support.

Most council members said they wanted to wait for their rate consultant to make one more presentation.

That presentation will take place at the next New Haven City Council meeting on Tuesday, May 24.

Meanwhile, New Haven Mayor Terry McDonald said the rate consultant has suggested that council approve the 37% rate increase.

"Some residents may be experiencing rusty water issues," said New Haven Mayor Terry McDonald.

"Some may be experiencing low pressure or some may wake up in the mornings and because we have a water main break, not have any water or have so little pressure they can't even take a shower in the morning. That becomes a problem," explained McDonald.

"It's one of those things, you don't see the water pipes, you don't see the sewer pipes, and you don't think about them. But when they do break, and they are creating an inconvenience, then you realize how important they are," continued McDonald.

McDonald told Indiana's NewsCenter New Haven leaders have not raised water rates since 2001.

A final vote could take place at the next New Haven City Council meeting on Tuesday, May 24 at 7 p.m.

That meeting will be held at New Haven City Hall.

New Haven Water Utility Financing Options

1. No water rate increase. Fund capital projects on a limited, pay as you go basis.

2. 37% rate increase raising $3.3 million.

3. 65% rate increase raising $6.3 million.

4. Remove estimated $100,000 rate increase from the City of Fort Wayne. Option 2, would be reduced to 30% rate increase and Option 3, would be reduced to a 58% rate increase.

5. Refinance existing 2002 Waterworks bonds and structure the proposed 2011 Waterworks bonds around the existing debt.

6. Strictly pay as you go for capital improvements

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