By MATT KOESTERS
Residents of Clarksville would see their sewer rates increase by at least 50 percent under a plan to spend more than $26.2 million on sewer and stormwater improvements.
The preliminary reports, prepared by the accounting firm H.J. Umbaugh & Associates, calls for rate increases on user fees for both stormwater and sewer utilities. No action will be taken until a special joint meeting of the town council and the Clarksville Redevelopment Commission, set to take place after the regular meeting of the council Sept. 4.
“This is basically the conversion of the wastewater treatment plant into the new design that is going to be required in order to meet state regulations,” Town Council President John Gilkey said.
“We’re looking at adjustments to the collection system as you get near the plant, a revision of the plant itself into the new style.”
Rate hikes could be anywhere from 50 to 65 percent of today’s costs. The current average monthly sewer bill for a single-family residential property is about $27.95 per month. The rate could go up by $13.98 to $18.17, according to the preliminary report.
By comparison, Charlestown’s average sewer rate is $44.35, New Albany’s is $49.76 and Jeffersonville’s is $67.03, according to numbers provided by Umbaugh. Georgetown has the highest local rate, with residents paying an average of $74.25.
Umbaugh presented four options that pay for $5.87 million in stormwater improvements to Ray Lawrence Park and the Maple Court area. Single-family residences in Clarksville currently pay $2.95 per month in stormwater utility fees. If tax-increment financing funds are used to pay for part of the project, the rate could jump to anywhere from $3.50 to $4.05. Without TIF funds, single-family residences could pay $4.60. If the town commits to a deal that relies on TIF funding, between $200,000 and $320,000 would need to be committed annually to servicing 20-year bonds.
“That’s a pretty major commitment over that period of time,” Gilkey said.
By comparison, New Albany charges $3.17 per month in stormwater utility fees, while Jeffersonville charges $3.50, according to the report.
About 80 percent of stormwater utility revenue comes from commercial customers, Gilkey said.
“A consideration that we have to make there is, do you want to run the risk of driving commercial people out of town by raising those rates to the point where it really becomes burdensome?” Gilkey said. “Over the period of a year, a mall customer might pay in excess of $20,000. So that becomes a real consideration.”
Ray Lawrence Park houses a drainage retention area. The city is considering spending $1.225 million to improve the pump station at the park and increase the capacity of the ponding area. In addition, a swale will be built to retain additional water.
Improvements to the Maple Court area will cost about $3.275 million.
“We’ve had a number of major rain events that have resulted in residential flooding in those areas, and that’s what that project looks at,” Gilkey said.
The stormwater proposal also includes $812,500 in engineering fees, $50,000 for environmental work and a $30,600 allowance for legal, bond counsel, financial advisory and rounding.