JEFFERSONVILLE — Mayor Mike Moore said the Jeffersonville City Council may have to raise sewer rates for city residents next year if it doesn’t reverse course and approve a wastewater ordinance that was adjusted Thursday.
But Moore believes the changes made by the Jeffersonville Sewer Board, for which he serves as president, will sway enough council members to change their votes.
“I would hope all nine (council members) would see the common sense to this because if you do not do it, the city council are the ones who raise sewer rates,” Moore said, alluding to his statements that city rates will have to rise if the council doesn’t go along with the ordinance proposed by the sewer board.
The ordinance was voted down 6-3 on Tuesday because several council members said they disagree with the amount capacity tap-in fees on new developments would increase.
Under the changes, developers would pay a $5,600 capacity fee per economic dwelling unit, or EDU, which equates to a single-family residential connection, for service outside city limits. The inside Jeffersonville rate would be $4,900.
The current rate is $3,300 per EDU for both.
The sewer board voted 3-0 on Thursday to split those increases over two years, with the first coming in 2021 and the second adjustment in 2022.
Sewer officials said the increases are needed to keep up with capacity at the northern wastewater plant, which is inside River Ridge Commerce Center. Moore said sewage capacity is nearing 75% at the plant and more space will be needed eventually as River Ridge continues to fill out the property with industries and businesses.
Another component of the ordinance is about a 14.5% increase in sewer rates for the 990 customers of the utility who live outside city limits. But that portion of the ordinance didn’t draw criticism from the council.
Councilman Steve Webb said Tuesday he didn’t support the ordinance because of the tap-in fees.
“If it was done under gradual increases, I think it would be more of a favorable motion,” he said.
Moore said Thursday he spoke with Webb and later another council member who voted against the ordinance. They said they would support it on final reading if the tap-in fees were phased-in, Moore said.
Moore added that he met with council members individually prior to the introduction of the ordinance and was told by eight of them that they would support the measure.
The sewer board oversees the utility’s operations, but the council is in charge of setting rates. Moore said without increasing the capacity fees and rates for users outside of the city, Jeffersonville residents would have to pay more for service.
But the council would have to approve any increases, as the administration can’t set the rates.
Councilman Ron Ellis attended Thursday’s virtual sewer board meeting. He said he was “extremely surprised” by the six votes against the ordinance.
The revised rates schedule is expected to come back to the council for a final vote in March.