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Council tables rate issue

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Staunton Town Council President Andy Kirchner
STAUNTON -- After hearing several concerns from local residents, the Staunton Town Council agreed to table an issue concerning an increase in water rates Monday.

The council conducted a special hearing Monday for the issue. Also on the table was an increase in sewer rates.

The rate increase was to affect town residents only. Those living outside of town limits, according to council members, are already paying an increased rate.

The council sent out a notice for the hearing, which included the increased rates.

The notice explained Ordinance No. 1-2012 (sewer rates) and No. 2-2012 (water rates).

Council president Andy Kirchner told those in attendance Monday the cost of running the town's municipal utilities department keeps rising.

"We're not generating enough to operate," Kirchner said.

It was explained to town residents the sewer rates were increasing 20 percent. In addition, the water rates -- for town residents only -- were going to be increased to the same rates currently paid by out-of-town customers.

Council members and town attorney Traci Lawson explained they wanted to increase the rates because they believed the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission may force the town's hand regarding the issue in the future.

Audience members stated they believed those who lived out of the town limits should see an increase as well.

But, according to council members, they are already paying more.

"I don't know what the answer is," Kirchner said. "I wish I did. I've got to pay a water bill just like everyone else.

"This is the best option we have right now. It's the only option we have right now."

Council members added the rate increases will only help the utilities department "break even."

Still, several residents expressed concern regarding the proposed rate increases.

"This water increase ... I don't think anybody can afford this in town," Sam Maesch said. "A rate (increase) like that ... I'm against that 100 percent."

Brenda Underwood told the council she was concerned, because bills just "keep going up."

Kirchner, however, said the town council had not increased the rates for water for a handful of years.

But resident Valerie Rost said people living in the town limits may go elsewhere or use other means for water if the rate increase was passed.

"All we're going to do is run people out of town," Rost said. "They can't afford this."

After careful consideration, the council voted 2-0 in favor of tabling the issue for now. Board member Ed Nevins was not in attendance Monday.

The council did, however, unanimously approve Ordinance No. 1-2012, in reference to the sewer rate increase.

Meanwhile, the council voted to approve a resolution adopting an anti-nepotism policy for the town.

Lawson drafted the resolution for the town and said a new state law, which goes into effect July 1, prohibits city and town employees from hiring relatives who would be in the "direct line of supervision of the other relative."

Lawson added the resolution drafted for the town mirrors the new state code.

The council meets regularly on the second Monday of each month in the Staunton Community Center.

Its next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m., Monday, July 9.

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My bill went up $50 and I live outside of town, someones is lying again Clay County.

-- Posted by Combat VET on Wed, Jun 13, 2012, at 1:17 PM

Time to hook up the well pump and put solar panels up. Your water company is corrupt. And you will drive people out of town.

-- Posted by Combat VET on Wed, Jun 13, 2012, at 1:27 PM

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