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G'town water bills on rise

Most residents to see monthly increase of $21.32

September 12, 2012
The Georgetown Town Council had a big decision to make on Sept. 4: whether or not to raise the water rates to cover the operating cost of the utility.

The board voted 4-1 to approve raising the water rates up to 63 percent as part of a 10-year capital improvement program geared toward bringing the utility up to par with the town's needs.

The new rate increase took effect immediately and will be included on the next billing cycle. It includes a $5.33 increase, to $13.78 from $8.45, per 1,000 gallons of water for those who use up to 5,999 gallons a month.

For those who use 6,000 gallons or more a month, there are discounts available.

For the average consumer, usage hovers around 4,000 gallons per month, meaning the majority of customers will pay $21.32 more per month, or $55.12 a month instead of their current $33.80.

President Mike Mills said the utility hasn't been bringing in enough money in recent months to fill the reserve needed to continue the operation without a rate increase.

The town currently purchases wholesale water from Ramsey Water Co.

Ramsey raised its rates 63 cents per 1,000 gallons almost three years ago and Georgetown has attempted to defray the cost from the consumer by paying the rate hikes itself.

This has been met with limited success for the Georgetown utility.

A rate study was done in 2004 for the town's water system. Increases were made in 2010 in the amount of 63 cents, roughly half of the $1.25 increase imposed by Ramsey. In order to not overburden residents, the town absorbed the additional 62 cents.

Water utility bonds also play a part in the current rate increase. The town has 10 years to pay $116,000 a month on water utility bonds and, in order to meet that obligation and keep up with Ramsey's increase, residents are being forced to adapt.

There has been talk in recent months of selling the town's water utility due to the number of capital improvement projects needed to update and maintain the facility.

Jim Reynolds, public works director, said previously that $1 million in improvements are needed and they include Variable Frequency Drives on the existing booster pumps, leak detection and Geographic Information System equipment and an installation of 15 fire hydrants.

"It had to happen, and we regret that we have had to put this hardship on our citizens," Reynolds said. "I also feel like Ramsey is bearing the brunt of the criticism, as well. It's not their fault; it's a domino effect, and the rates were increased by Indiana American, which forced everyone else to raise theirs, as well."

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