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Study: Town needs to raise water rates to break even
Updated on: 01.24.14

Nashville's water rates need to be raised by 21 percent, or the utility will lose $200,000 this year.

That's the news Christina Horan of H.J. Umbaugh & Associates brought to the town council at a special meeting Thursday night, from a water rate study the council commissioned several months ago.

All fees included, water bills for in-town customers -- assuming $4,000 gallons of use -- could go up by $7.84 per month, to $45.12.

Another option is to raise bills by a little more, $9.68 per month, so the council could put away $500,000 for water system improvements.

That amount would allow the council to tackle the top item on a lengthy list of repairs and upgrades: replacing water meters. It might also allow the utility to install more shut-off valves, which could isolate leaks and possibly reduce the number of boil orders.

That's the option the council is leaning toward. It's directing its attorney to draft an ordinance with a 26-percent increase in rates.

The board will take another look at it Thursday, Feb. 20. A public hearing to receive input from customers has been set for Thursday, March 13. The council could adopt a new water rate at its Thursday, March 20 meeting.

"We’re sorry we have to do this, but we don’t have any choices," said council President Bob Kirlin. "We cannot afford to continue losing money. I hate it. We’ll drive people out of town because they cannot afford to pay their water bill. But we don't have any choices."

Among the 14 Indiana communities Nashville's size that certified public accounting firm Umbaugh studied, Nashville's current water bills rank fourth-highest. After a 26-percent increase, they would be second-highest, behind Decatur County Rural Water customers who pay at least $67.71 per month.

Present water rates were adopted in May 2012, and reflected an increase of $2.12 for 4,000 gallons. By council's calculation, in-town water rates are still lower than what Brown County Water customers pay out in the county, and will be close to the same even after the proposed rate increase.

Read more details in the Feb. 5 Brown County Democrat.

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