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.=