Winamac Council Approves Sewer Rate Hike

Winamac Town Hall
Winamac Town Hall

Sewer rates will soon be going up for Winamac residents. The Winamac Town Council gave its final approval to an ordinance Monday, raising the sewer rate by six percent. Eric Walsh with accounting firm Umbaugh and Associates says the increase will allow the town’s Wastewater Department to save about half a million dollars in the long term, by refinancing one of its outstanding bonds. 

But he told council members that the town may be able to save even more, depending on how they decide to sell the new bonds. “You have two options on the table,” he said. “The $493,000, almost $500,000, we know we can get. We’ve already got a bank that’s committed to that. We could call them tomorrow and say, ‘Okay, we’re closing on this,’ and that’s going to be your savings level. Or if you want to try and get a rating and go through the additional steps and the additional cost, based on today’s rates, where they are – now, keep in mind, things could change in the next month because this is going to delay your process about a month to a month and a half – there’s an additional $50,000 of savings we’d estimate there.”

However, that would depend on the town’s bond rating. In the end, the council chose the quicker and less risky option of going with a private placement, for its bond refinancing.

In addition to letting the town refinance its bonds, Walsh says the rate increase will also help Winamac bring its wastewater facilities into compliance with new ammonia limits over the next three years, “You were at least going to have this rate adjustment a year, a year-and-a-half from now anyway. We just moved it up a little bit to start generating some cash now to set aside for that, as well as you can get the refinancing done.”

The Winamac Town Council approved the sewer rate ordinance and the bond refinancing unanimously.