Winamac residents may see a slight bump in their sewer rates in the near future. During a presentation to the Winamac Town Council last week, Eric Walsh with accounting firm Umbaugh and Associates said the town’s utilities are generally doing well financially.
However, a few issues in the town’s Wastewater Department have the council considering a five-to-ten-percent increase in sewer rates. That would mean an additional three to six dollars for customers.
One factor in the increase is new ammonia limits expected within the next three years. Bringing the town into compliance is estimated to cost between $500,000 and $1 million.
Walsh also says the town has the opportunity to refinance one of the Wastewater Department’s outstanding bonds, which he estimates would mean a savings of about $25,000 a year. However, the current sewer rate doesn’t meet the recommended income threshold to cover the bond. Additionally, Walsh says rates will have to be raised in the next few years anyway, to pay for some upcoming improvements.
Council members hope that by taking action soon, they can minimize the price jump for customers and realize the cost savings for the town. Judy Heater says it seems like a common-sense solution, “What we’d be doing is doing the rate adjustment now – part of it – sooner rather than later, and we’re doing it for the specific purpose of saving $25,000 a year that can be put towards something down the road that’s needed, that we know we’re going to need.”
Of the town’s three utilities, the Electric Department is in the best shape financially. Walsh suggested that money from its vast cash reserves could be lent to the town’s other utilities to use for projects, saving the cost of additional bond sales.
The potential sewer rate increase is expected to be discussed at upcoming town council meetings.