The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Local Politics

February 8, 2014

Ken de la Bastide: Tough vote expected on water rate

The administration of Anderson Mayor Kevin Smith is seeking approval for a 47 percent increase in water rates for residential customers, but it will prove to be a tough sell.

The request was expected to be made to the Anderson Common Council at the Jan. 9 meeting, but was pulled from the agenda at the last minute. The reason was a reported unexpected loss of 1 million gallons of water, which prompted water department officials to hunt for a leak.

A few days later it was announced 500,000 gallons was due to a software problem and officials were still seeking to locate a major water leak.

The proposed rate increase, which would require approval from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, would boost the minimum amount paid by residential customers from $13.36 per month to $19.62 for 3,000 gallons and the average customer's bill would climb from $18.98 to $27.88 per month.

The seven Democrats on the Anderson Common Council are leaning against approving the rate increase request from the administration.

Administration officials need to convince at least three of the Democrats on the council to OK the rate hike. They also have to hope Republicans Russ Willis and Art Pepela Jr. vote favorably.

Mayoral campaign speculation

Although the mayoral campaign in Anderson is more than a year away, speculation on potential candidates for the city’s highest office has already started.

On the Republican side of the discussion there is no doubt that incumbent Kevin Smith will be seeking a second term in office. Smith was first elected mayor in 2003 and then lost a re-election bid to Democrat Kris Ockomon in 2007. Smith won the rematch in 2011.

A name floating around GOP circles as a potential challenger to Smith is Doug Zook, who worked for the Smith administration during Smith's first term in office.

Democrats considering a run for the mayoral nomination include David Eicks, past president of the Anderson Common Council. Ockomon is believed to be considering a rematch with Smith in 2015.

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