The Herald Bulletin

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Editorials

January 29, 2014

Editorial: Is water rate increase needed? You decide

It's generally a good thing when local government units resist raising tax or utility rates for several years. But there is a downside.

When the rates finally have to be raised, the hike can seem overly ... well, taxing.

So it is with the current effort to pump up rates for those who use water supplied by the City of Anderson. Early this month, The Anderson Board of Public Works approved a resolution to increase the rate, which has not been raised in seven years. Anderson City Council will consider the proposal at its Feb. 13 meeting.

The rate would rise by a whopping 47 percent.

The increase doesn't seem quite so bad when you consider it in real dollar amounts. The bill for the average family, which uses about 5,000 gallons a month, would rise about $9 to about $28 per month.

To many people that's not a lot. But to those struggling financially or on a fixed income, it's a significant amount.

Beyond affordability, of course, it's important to consider what the money would be used for and whether it's really needed.

In this case, 31 percent of the increase would be applied to general operating expenses and maintenance costs, while the remainder would be used to finance a $14.3 million bond for infrastructure improvements.

The improvements would include a new water treatment plant to replace the current Lafayette plant. Officials say replacement would be cheaper than upgrading the existing facility. The new plant could be completed and in operation by 2016.

The bond would also finance new mains to improve water pressure and firefighting capacity.

If council approves the measure, the proposed rate increase would go before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, and a protracted review would follow. The earliest the rate hike could take effect would be late this year.

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