Over the next few years, wastewater rates in Brazil will be going up.
During a special meeting Thursday, the Common Council of the City of Brazil hesitantly approved the second reading of an ordinance increasing treatment rates for the city's Wastewater Utility, which encompasses both Brazil and the K&H Sewer District.
This is the first rate increase for the Wastewater Utility since 1996, and Umbaugh and Associates, Indianapolis, CPA Principal Den Hedden cited inflation during that time period has contributed to its current financial state.
"The utility is approximately $376,393 short of being able to maintain its requirements for operations and debt service costs," Hedden said. "We first provided alternatives for the rate increase back in February, and right now the suggested increase of 32.7 percent factors in both making up for the shortfall and helping fund some of the high-priority projects."
He added the rate increase would create approximately $666,300 in additional revenue for the utility in which about 70 percent of that amount accounts for the cost increases due to inflation and the addition of Energy Savings Performance Contract payments.
While instituting the full increase all at once would allow the city to move forward with capital improvement projects quicker, there was a concern about hitting the residents' wallets so much so quickly after the Water Utility increases.
Mayor Ann Bradshaw informed the council she requested additional information regarding a possible phase-in of the rate increase.
"I definitely know we need to do something," she said. "But, I see a lot of people having a hard time financially right now, which is why I suggested phasing in the increase."
Hedden provided the council with information in which the current treatment rate of $6.52 per 100 cubic feet of usage would increase 20 percent to $7.82 within Brazil starting Jan. 1, 2010, then an additional 6.35 percent in both 2011 ($8.24) and 2012 ($8.65).
"A phase-in of the rate means funding would come in a little slower for projects, but also a little more flexibility," Hedden said. "A 20-percent increase would bring in between $400,000-$410,000 next year so the plan works, but the timing of projects would need to be closely monitored because the city won't be able to go out tomorrow and start hiring contractors for projects."
Council member Sam Glover agreed the phase-in would most likely be the more favorable option for the city's residents at this time.
"I think the phase-in would be a lot more palatable to residents," Glover said. "Plus, I don't think they would mind the increase as much as long as they see the results that go along with it."
In following procedures prior to putting the second reading of the ordinance up for a vote, Bradhsaw opened the matter up for a public hearing in which there were no comments as the meeting was void of residents and attended by only representatives from Umbaugh and city employees.
After closing the public hearing, the council voted 4-0 to amend the ordinance to institute the rate increase, phasing it in over three years. Council member Steve Lamb was unable to attend the meeting due to his work schedule.
In other business during Thursday's special meeting, the council:
* Approved the second reading of an ordinance increasing the monthly trash collection fee for the sanitation department from $10.50 to $13. The increase will take effect Jan. 1, and will be reflected on bills due in February, and
* Re-appointed Robert Kulow to the city's Board of Zoning Appeals.
The Common Council of the City of Brazil will conduct another special meeting at 4 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 30, in the Council Chambers of City Hall for the purposes of discussing the animal contract. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend.
New rate schedule
The following outlines the phase-in of the City of Brazil's Wastewater Utility rates. In total, rates will be increasing 32.7 percent during the next three years (20 percent in 2010, and 6.35 percent in both 2011 and 2012). Figures represent the treatment rate per 100 cubic feet.
|Start date||Brazil metered users||K&H Sewer District|
|Jan. 1, 2010||$7.82||$2.26|
|Jan. 1, 2011||$8.24||$2.38|
|Jan. 1, 2012||$8.65||$2.49|