The Herald Bulletin

December 12, 2013

Anderson City Council approves $700,000 water department loan

Rate increase to be considered in 2014

By Ken de la Bastide
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — The Anderson Common Council Thursday approved a $700,000 loan from the sewer department to the water utility to help cover an anticipated cash flow shortage.

The loan is to be repaid to the Water Pollution Control Department fund by June 30.

The $700,000 loan comes when the city of Anderson is considering an increase in water rates, something that has not happened since a 27.37 percent hike in 2007.

Earlier this year, city officials announced a plan to replace the aging Lafayette Water Treatment Plant on Hartman Road and make other repairs to improve Anderson’s water system at a projected cost of $14.3 million.

The Anderson Common Council and the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission will have to approve any proposed rate increase by the water utility.

Under the proposed rate plan, minimum users — up to 3,000 gallons of water per month — would see an increase of $6.26 in the monthly water charge.

Average users, or those with approximately 5,000 gallons of water per month, will see an increase of about $9.14 per month.

The current monthly bill for the average customer is $18.98 per month and could increase by 48 percent to $27.88 per month, officials said.

Jason Fenwick, Anderson City Controller, said the water utility budget is “tight” right now.

“We have payments due the first of the year and there is a cash flow problem,” he said. “The water utility needs the loan.”

Fenwick said there has not been an increase in the number of customers who fail to pay their monthly water bill.

“There has been some consideration of a rate increase by the Board of Public Works,” he said.

Pete Heuer, chairman of the Anderson Board of Public Works, said the city is researching an increase in the water rates.

The city has hired the Indianapolis accounting firm of Crowe Horwath to conduct a rate study, and the engineering firm of American Structure Point to determine the future capital improvements needed by the utility.

“We are going to make an extra effort to inform the public of the necessary improvements to the water system and a need for additional revenues,” Heuer said.

The Anderson Board of Public Works approved a contract Tuesday with M.K. Betts Engineering for the construction of a new well in Lafayette Township at a cost of $413,219. The work should be completed in the spring of 2014.

Tom Brewer, superintendent of the water utility, said the original well has been in operation since 1967. He said the new well will replace an existing one, which will be capped following state guidelines.

Brewer said the new well will have the capability of providing 1,200 gallons per minute as compared to the 400 gallons per minute of the existing well. He said the new well will have a propane gas back-up power supply.

Brewer said the first estimate was the new well would provide 800 gallons per minute, but further study determined there was more water available in the well field.

Contact Ken de la Bastide at ken.delabastide@heraldbulletin.com, or call 640-4863.