By BRADEN LAMMERS
Nine months after Sellersburg began looking into revamping its water system, customers finally have an idea of proposed rate hikes.
An ordinance of the proposed new rates was presented at Sellersburg’s Town Council meeting Monday to help cover a higher bond amount than was initially sought. Despite the bond the town is seeking jumping by $3.5 million — and with a change in the plan to construct a new water filtration plant — rates will only go up about $2.50 per month, per resident.
After Sellersburg began researching the project early this year, it initially agreed to seek a $5 million bond to pay for improvements to the town’s water system. Among the improvements outlined were the drilling of two new supply wells, construction of a new booster station, a new 500,000-gallon water storage tank and the refurbishing of two of the town’s existing water tanks.
The rate initially introduced would have raised monthly rates for town residents, based on 5,000 gallons of water usage, from $13.25 to $27.
According to the ordinance introduced Monday, based on 5,000 gallons of water usage per month, the rate would total $15.82.
Municipal Works Director Ken Alexander also said the project the town planned to undertake has also changed.
“The water filtration plant will be brand new,” he said. “It wouldn’t have been as effective to rehab the old plant and still bring us within our 2030 goals.”
The reason for the increase in the bond amount was the council’s decision to purchase Riverside Water Co. Before the council agreed to bond for the system improvement projects, a proposal was presented to the town to purchase the water utility.
An agreement was reached to purchase Riverside Water Co. for $2.5 million. The deal adds about 1,200 new customers to the town’s current 3,400 water customers, adds water capacity and increases future bonding capacity for the town. It also allows Sellersburg to set up a capital improvement fund for future utility repairs and improvements.
The ordinance proposed also sets minimum monthly charges, with about 2,000 gallons usage equaling $12.85 for a five-eighths to three-fourths inch line and for more than 6,400 gallons in water usage for a one-inch meter, the rate totals $31.86.
Fire protection charges would also increase as well as the hydrant charge — per equivalent meter size — starting at $53.79 annually, or about $4.48 per month.
No vote was taken on the bond ordinance or the water rate ordinance Monday.
Sellersburg Town Council Attorney Jake Elder said a vote is likely to be taken after a public hearing that will be held during the council’s Nov. 11 regular meeting.
2014 BUDGET APPROVED
The town’s 2014 budget that totals $3.2 million for the general fund was unanimously approved. The tax rate for the general fund budget totaled .6512 percent.
Sellersburg’s tax rate has dropped from the rate sought last year. According to the budget submitted in 2013, the tax rate for the town was .6851 percent.
The general fund total being sought has also increased, but only slightly. The general fund amount approved by the council in 2013 totaled $3.17 million.
The requested budget will be sent off to the state for approval. In addition to several hundred thousand dollars that was cut by the Department of Local Government Finance when it returned 2013’s certified budget amount, the council agreed to cut an additional $60,000 in September.
A certified 2014 budget amount will likely be returned by the Department of Local Government Finance in February or March.
So you know:
Sellersburg Town Hall will be closed Friday, Oct. 18, because of ongoing construction to the building.