After 16 years, Lafayette proposes another water rate hike

Lafayette water customers could see a rate hike in their bill in the next few years. This comes after the city hasn't increased water rates since 2000. Back then, the city had plans to make improvements. However, those plans were put on hold after 9/11.

Posted: Nov 2, 2017 10:04 AM
Updated: Nov 2, 2017 11:19 AM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Lafayette water customers could see a rate hike in their bill in the next few years. This comes after the city hasn't increased water rates since 2000. Back then, the city had plans to make improvements. However, those plans were put on hold after 9/11.
In 2000, the city wanted to build a new water tower and wanted cleaner water. That all changed on Sept. 11, 2001. City leaders chose to use the money to help protect its people instead.
"When September 11th came to pass, a lot of those priorities got shifted because we had to assess the vulnerability of the water utility," said Utility Consultant Jenny Leshney. "We had to look at wellhead protection."
Leshney said money from the water rate increase in 2000 went towards building security and emergency power, rather than the water projects planned at the time.
The city was also federally and state mandated to do so.
"So, a lot of the money that we would have spent on a water tower or other infrastructure like aging water mains were never able to be spent," said Leshney.
It was an effort to make sure water utilities weren't vulnerable to a terrorist attack.
"Now we are coming back 17 years later and trying to tackle some of the aging infrastructure and things that we actually needed back in 2000, but were not able to completely do," said Leshney.
For a homeowner using about 5,000 gallons of water a month, the monthly water bill would go from $12.13 to $16.51. That's an increase of $4.38. A year after that, the bill would increase by $1.80

"So, we would go from $12.13 to $18.31," said Leshney.
The water rate hike proposal was approved by city council in October.
It still needs a second vote and that vote will be taken at Monday's city council meeting.
From there, the proposal will need to be approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.
The water rate increase is separate from the sewage rate increase the city put in place last year.

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