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Residents face possible water rate increase

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A potential increase in water rates has created an uproar from area residents.

"It very well may happen," Brazil Mayor Ann Bradshaw said. "However, it is still in the early planning stages and we're a few months off before finalizing anything."

On Sept. 10, an informational meeting took place between Bradshaw, City Engineer Brian Pohlar, representatives from Carbon, Harmony, Knightsville and Center Point and Crowe Horwath, an accounting firm that has been conducting a water rate study for approximately four years.

"Representatives from Crowe Horwath presented recommendations about potential increases based on their findings in the rate study," Water Office Manager Sheryl Hill said.

The recommendations came to a shock to those in attendance.

Crowe Horwath suggested an increase of 87 percent for customers in Brazil and a 166 percent increase for customers in towns that purchase their water from Brazil.

"The recommendations are so high because there hasn't been a rate increase in about 15 years," Brazil City Water Superintendent Jake Raubuch said. "It is starting to cost the city more to pump and treat the water than the city is charging which is constantly creating a loss in revenue."

Raubach added the entire water system has been assessed and maintenance projects are needed to improve its efficiency.

"There are pipes that need to be fixed or replaced," he said. "But there hasn't even been incremental increases since 1993 and it makes it increasingly difficult to maintain what we have when our costs are rising."

According to Bradshaw, the City Council has the ultimate say regarding if and how much a rate increase could be.

"The council will be presented with the information for the first time at the regular meeting on Oct. 14," she said.

"The council will review the recommendations and a couple of public hearings will also have to be conducted before a decision is made."

Bradshaw added while the suggested increases are a huge jump, they have been a long time coming.

"I have been considering an increase since January or February and the council could very well decide to split up the increase over the next few years," she said. "But, we have to move forward and can't drop the ball and dig a deeper hole than we are already in."

Crowe Howalth will be at the monthly meeting of the Common Council of the City of Brazil Tuesday, at 7 p.m., in the Council Chambers at City Hall. The public is welcome to attend.=

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INCREASE?!?!?!?!?! You can barely afford the water/wastewater bills in Brazil as is!!!!

-- Posted by asil on Thu, Oct 9, 2008, at 8:05 PM

I agree! With the economy the way it is & the loss of jobs, people just can't afford this. I guess raising the trash pick up wasn't enough.

-- Posted by th1953 on Thu, Oct 9, 2008, at 8:28 PM

If you can't afford the water bill move, it will be higher where ever you move. Brazil is low and all the rates need raised to help with the economy. I am wiling to pay more to have a better place to live. Thanks Mayor Bradshaw for all your hard work.

-- Posted by MensRea2008 on Fri, Oct 10, 2008, at 12:54 AM

I agree the city needs a rate hike, the question is, Is this on the water only? I have no objection with paying $25 instead of $13, but do not increase that wastewater from $45 to $70. This would mean my average bill being around $60 to $70 will be $105 to $125 every month. What about those on Social Security, single moms that don't get support, I don't have the answer but God help us as this city has so many household living under poverty level. I'll survive and still live here, thank you for the invitation to move though, I keep it in mind. Such compassion!!

-- Posted by mamawpam on Fri, Oct 10, 2008, at 4:48 AM

I agree with mamawpam, we need to know more. I could "possibly" afford a rate increase in just the water, but the wastewater rates are already out of control. And anyone who thinks raising your water rates will make Brazil a better place to live, well.......

-- Posted by Icareaboutbrazil on Fri, Oct 10, 2008, at 7:00 AM

Brazil water rates are low??? I have never lived anywhere with rates this high.

-- Posted by sassypants on Fri, Oct 10, 2008, at 7:00 AM

On minimum water bill the water is only $5.62.

-- Posted by george1 on Fri, Oct 10, 2008, at 7:27 AM

This is crazy!! Have you noticed that people are losing their jobs and homes left and right?? How do you think this is a good option for the people already struggling to put food on the table? You have to be making enough off of the outrageous sewage bills and increase in trash pickup to keep you going for awhile! Is this the direction our Mayor is taking us? I thought she was doing a good job but now I have to wonder what her agenda is and if she's there to make Brazil a place people want to live. Don't make it an unaffordable option! Please give this more consideration before you make your final decision.

-- Posted by just thinking on Fri, Oct 10, 2008, at 7:30 AM

When is re-election? Not soon enough I'm afraid! I have water only, no sewage, no trash and my water bill is NOT $5.62. Times that by 6 and that is my water bill! I use the minimum every month too! Hmmmmmmmmmmm..........I think somebody is padding their pockets in City Hall!

-- Posted by clgruener on Fri, Oct 10, 2008, at 7:49 AM

We are now going to have to pay for many years of neglect to our water system. To keep rates low over the years our leaders have deferred basic maintenance and upgrades.

Drive around the area on any given day and you will see dug up spots with a red cone on it. This is another water leak repair. There are literally dozens of them.

One of the reports to a former Mayor said that Brazil lost almost as much water in leaks as it delivered to paying customers. That is sad..

Political will to take the heat for upgrading our water system has been non existant for many years. I am not a big supporter of our Mayor but if she can get some badly needed improvements done God Bless her. I just hope she does not raise the rates and then do nothing about the problems.

I also agree that a water rate increase should not mean an automatic sewer rate increase. Although that system needs work also, we must decide what needs done the most.

-- Posted by BackHomeAgain on Fri, Oct 10, 2008, at 8:15 AM

Calm down, don't move yet. Let's wait and find out how the council will approach this situation. Just because people lose jobs doesn't mean the utilities cost of operation doesn't increase. The mayor said, "I have been considering an increase since January or February and the council could very well decide to split up the increase over the next few years". Let's not panic just yet.

-- Posted by Dagnabbit on Fri, Oct 10, 2008, at 9:49 AM

MensRea2008, I have lived in many cities, and I can honestly say the WATER rates run about the same in each other than Brazil where it is a little higher than most. However, the WASTEWATER rates are astronomical here compared to elsewhere. If there is an increase, I can only hope that it's to the water only and not wastewater because at the rate it's at now, it's amazing so many people can afford it. I know so many people in this town that have been affected by layoffs, closings, etc, they struggle to make ends meet with $80/mo water bills, with most of that going towards wastewater. With the increase, so many of these people could quite possibly have bills of $120 or more. Your solution of MOVE is one of the most insensitive remarks I've read in the comments section of this paper in quite a while. While I'm happy for you that you can obviously afford any increase they may make without having to move, you could show a little compassion for those affected by circumstances beyond their control.

-- Posted by asil on Fri, Oct 10, 2008, at 9:36 PM

In the post at the bottom of the page MensRea2008 said the rates are low in brazil, That is a nuts as the rate increase. I looked it up on indiana averages and brazil is awful as far as water use per gallons and the sewer is Crazy High...

-- Posted by computerdx on Fri, Oct 10, 2008, at 9:42 PM

The outsider view:

I moved away from Brazil 20 years ago and have watched the Wabash Valley spiral ever since. I have many dear friends still living in Brazil and will always consider it home. However, just a few years ago I remember reading a story about the last WOODEN city water line being replaced. This is the 21st century and Brazil needs to put money in basic city infrastructure just to survive as a town. Should the city continue to go deeper in the red because they haven't raised rates for the last 16 years??? Consider yourselves lucky. If you are already paying $100 on a water/sewage bill then you are probably over consuming and need to think about how you use your resources.

Brazil is still reeling from years of Norval neglect during his term as Mayor 20 years ago. I remember Norval showing up with alcohol on his breath at 10:30a.m. one morning when I worked at WSDM so he could read a PSA announcement about holiday drunk driving. I knew then, we were all in trouble.

I find it staggering with eye's wide shut that this study was a surprise to any city official or resident and at least Ann has brought it to the forefront.

So don't take your family to McDonald's once a month and eat at home and I'm sure you will be able to cover the rate increase. Do the right thing Mayor Bradshaw and stagger the costs. Hey, at least you have newly painted fire hydrants and lawn mower derby's!!

-- Posted by coltsbeer on Fri, Oct 10, 2008, at 10:38 PM

Maybe the reason the water is "higher than most" is because the residence are paying for the leaks as well as our own water use???

No need to 'freak out' just yet, agreed .. but I do believe there needs to be a gradual increase .. if it HAS to be done.

Just my thoughts.

-- Posted by Emmes on Sun, Oct 12, 2008, at 12:38 PM

Sorry .. "residence" = RESIDENTS

-- Posted by Emmes on Sun, Oct 12, 2008, at 12:38 PM

The City of Brazil does not qualify for many grants because the water rates are so low. In order to progress, the City will have to raise rates. It never comes at a convenient time and it takes political courage for leaders to do what is best for the community when it comes to our pocket books, but after decades of relatively no increases, it is time for Brazil to progress.

-- Posted by scwh1974 on Mon, Oct 13, 2008, at 7:02 AM

the water co needs more new trucks to go set behind McDonalds and other places to drink coffee and smoke

-- Posted by hopper1 on Tue, Oct 14, 2008, at 8:16 AM

hopper1 ~

The guys at the water department are not involved in the rate hikes ~ so far as working ~ the guys in this department do an awesome job ~ would you like to remedy a water leak in subzero weather? ~ they do ~ & what do you want them to drive? a broken down old truck that won't start when you have a water leak? maybe you should walk in their shoes for a day ~ you'd have a different opinion then ~ hopefully it will be a day when there's a water leak in the middle of a cold night so you can get your butt out of your warm, cozy bed & climb into a hole full of water ~ we haven't experienced any major leaks in quite a while or did you not notice that ~ & so far as these guys drinking coffee ~ be sure to tell your boss that you'd like to give up your breaks ~

-- Posted by karebabe on Tue, Oct 14, 2008, at 12:39 PM

My water bill this month was $130.00 with the rate increase it would be higher than my gas bill (if this includes the wastewater rates). I can't image owning a laundry mat in this town. No wonder Freddy closed. As far as the comment about cutting back to cover the raise; I guess I could make my kids wear dirty clothes to school and only take baths on the weekends.

This is not a problem that just happened recently. The city officials have known there was a problem for years now. My problem is that the current mayor blames in on past government. Am I mistaken or hasn't she been part of that government as a councilperson for a number of years?

I am not going to panic yet. I only wish that anyone in City government that has read any of these comments would comment on the increase as to it being just the water or the wastewater!

Also, why does the City of Brazil send employees of the the water dept all the way to Sam's in Terre Haute to buy bottled water for them to drink? First, isn't our water good enough to ice in a thermos cooler? Second, if we must buy them water, why in Terre Haute? I have seen them there myself in a Brazil City Water Dept. vehicle loading cases onto the truck.

-- Posted by Icareaboutbrazil on Tue, Oct 14, 2008, at 1:24 PM

In the article published on Tuesday (water increase stirs discussion) It said it would only be an increase on the water not the wastewater:)

-- Posted by piper08 on Thu, Oct 16, 2008, at 8:27 AM

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