Knox residents will likely see an increase in their water and sewer bills early next year. City council members discussed the recently completed rate study during their meeting last night but did not take any formal action. That’s expected at their next meeting in December.
One resident spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting prior to the formal discussion of the rates and said the proposed 11 percent hike is a significant hit. Mayor Rick Chambers notes rates have not been raised in eight years and are still among the lowest in the area.
Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston told the council he’s the one who hears the complaints from customers every time rates are increased.
“We’re running a really, really lean ship, and we’ve just come to the point where we have to raise rates. I also want to remind everybody that we also have the Indiana Code to live under. And the Indiana Code says that we have to provide for maintenance costs, operating costs, upgrades. Number one we have to make sure we take in enough money to pay our debt and interest on our debt. We have to abide by the laws just like everybody else.”
Under the proposal, the water rate increase will take effect immediately, while the sewer rate hike will be phased in over two years. Houston notes the rate studies on which the increases are based take into effect the infrastructure needs for the water and sewer departments.
Water Superintendent Todd Gardner agrees the increase is a lot to absorb at once but notes the city doesn’t have a choice.
“If we’d have been doing one percent increase over the last 20 years we wouldn’t have this issue,” he said. “We have to do something. We’ve got infrastructures we’ve got to deal with and upgrades. It’s unfortunate. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and we’re not trying to rebuild the town off of this little bit we’re getting. We’re just trying to stay afloat and give us a little bit of revenue so we can do some things that we need to be doing.”
Chambers asked the council members to review the proposed ordinances prior to the next meeting and come prepared to act on them.