The Herald Bulletin

February 22, 2014

Ken de la Bastide: Water rate hike expected at 21.18 percent

By Ken de la Bastide
The Herald Bulletin

---- — It appears likely when the Anderson City Council conducts a special meeting Thursday that it will approve an increase in water rates.

Last week the council heard several hours of testimony for and against a 47 percent increase in water rates proposed by the administration of Mayor Kevin Smith.

The requested increase would have eliminated a projected $1 million deficit in the water utility budget and to finance a $14.3 million bond issue for infrastructure improvements.

Democrats on the council are reluctant to approve a one-time 47 percent increase but are supportive of a two-year phase in of the rate increase.

One option presented was a 32 percent increase in 2015 and an 11 percent increase in 2016, or increases of 21.18 percent in both 2015 and 2016. The city’s consultant recommended the 32 and 11 percent increase.

The problem is that the five votes needed for passage of the consultant’s recommendation are not currently there among the seven Democrats. Three Democrats are not voicing support for any increase after it was disclosed that the superintendent of the water department received a 28 percent salary increase for 2014.

Local residents can expect the 21.18 percent increases in 2015 and 2016 to be approved, which when compounded will equal the 47 percent.

At that rate, the minimum user would see an increase in their water bill go from $13.36 per month to $19.62 in 2016, and the average user’s bill would go from $18.98 to $27.87.

Free beverages for police

With a lawsuit pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, the CEO of Ricker Oil Co. provided some interesting facts. Convenience stores have filed a lawsuit to win the ability to sell cold beer during the week and on Sunday, something liquor store owners oppose.

Quinn Ricker, in a declaration to the court, said Ricker provides free fountain beverages and coffee to police officers. The purpose of the program is to encourage police officers to visit the stores and to show an increased police presence.

Ricker’s maintains records of how many are given to officers. In 2011, 50,463 cold beverages was provided at 52 locations. In 2012, that number was 49,042 at 50 stores and climbed slightly to 49,298 in 2013 at the same number of outlets.

Ricker’s records show that in 2013, officers received 15,265 hot beverages at 51 locations.

Extension granted

The attorney for Dr. Nilda Durany, who filed a lawsuit alleging Medicaid fraud in the U.S. Southern District Court of Indiana against the Madison County Community Health Center, director Anthony Malone and former medical director Dr. Frank Campbell, has been granted an extension.

The extension gives her attorney until March 26 to respond to a request by MCCHC to dismiss the lawsuit.

Senior Reporter Ken de la Bastide’s column publishes Sundays. Contact him at Ken.DeLaBastide@heraldbulletin.com or (765) 640-4863.