Residents Say Enough Is Enough To Proposed Aqua Indiana Rate Increases

By John W. Davis

August 4, 2010 Updated Aug 4, 2010 at 10:51 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's Newscenter) - Too much, too soon. That is the plea of Aboite, Wayne, & Jefferson Township residents as Aqua Indiana seeks its second rate hike since 2008.

Nearly 150 concerned citizens gathered at Wednesday night's meeting at Summit Middle School on Homestead Road in Fort Wayne.

More than 25 of those concerned citizens stood up to testify before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.

Meanwhile, dozens of others handed in written statements condemning Aqua Indiana's proposal.

"Most of it (the proposed rate increase) is driven by capital investment over the last three years since our last rate increase and some of it is related to increased expenses," said Aqua Indiana Vice President Bill Etzler.

Residents say they are against the 18% rate hike because their water is hard and the taste is "god awful."

Homeowners and renters alike cite customer service issues and a 75% in 2008 as major deterrents.

Aqua Indiana initially requested an 100% rate increase, but accepted the 75% increase.

Meanwhile, one residents says the water quality is so poor, it is affecting real estate prices and that Aqua Indiana's service to Aboite, Wayne & Jefferson Townships should be bought out by the city of Fort Wayne.

"I'm very concerned because it is a substantial rate increase and we're talking about a very tough time in our economy," said Aboite Township Resident Barbara Bailey.

"They made a profit last year, over 600,000 dollars. So they're not faltering. It's not like they don't have the money so I would think they could be more reasonable with that increase," said Aboite Township Resident Lynn Knapp.

"We need to have a rate increase to cover the cost of making the improvements that we made. You know in hindsight, maybe a delay in some of those improvements would have been a better way to go to push a rate increase further off into the future," said Etzler.

State officials estimate a ruling will be made by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission in early 2011.

All written comments are due by Tuesday, August 24.

You can send those comments to the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor by mail, fax or e-mail.

Mail: Consumer Services Staff
Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor
115 W. Washington St., Suite 1500 South
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Fax: (317) 232-5923
E-mail: uccinfo@oucc.IN.gov
OUCC Website: www.IN.gov/OUCC

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