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.
Rodney Chamberlain, also a member of Anderson Common Council, said recently that he's considering a run at the mayor’s office as well.
Last week I reported that a California brewery making craft beers was considering Anderson for expansion in the Midwest.
City economic development officials indicated this past week that there are three breweries and a food processing company considering Anderson for new facilities.
Officials said the focus is on Anderson because of the quality of the water and the availability of water from the city’s well fields. We all know that there is more water in the Midwest than on the West Coast, which is subject to periods of drought.
A concern is the aging infrastructure of the Anderson water utility and the need for upgrades to the system.
Senior Reporter Ken de la Bastide’s column publishes Sundays. Contact him at Ken.DeLaBastide@heraldbulletin.com or (765) 640-4863.