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Residents in Huntertown to get say on sewer rates

Huntertown residents will have a chance to weigh in on proposed sewage rate changes before the charges are finalized.

Town Council members proposed Monday to take utility customers from a flat monthly rate to a metered rate. A public hearing where residents can express opinions was set for Dec. 3.

The council is expected to finalize the rate change after the public hearing.

Utility customers now pay a flat rate of $21.25 a month. On the metered system, the proposed plan calls for residents to be charged for wastewater usage based on water consumption.

The typical household using about 5,000 gallons of water a month would pay $34.80 for sewage, said Derek Frederickson, an engineering consultant for the town.

Low-end users who use the minimum of 2,000 gallons of water or less would pay about $21.60 a month and those using 10,000 gallons a month would pay $56.80 a month, Frederickson said.

Northwest Allen County Schools now pays a flat rate of $4,900 a month, based on using 263,100 gallons of water every month. With the new metered rate, that bill would drop by about 55 percent to $2,220.

On the flip side, a restaurant owner now paying a flat sewage rate of about $63.65 would see the bill increase to $161.08 – an increase of 153 percent.

The town would apply “sprinkling” credits in the summer when water usage is heavier, so that residents would not pay sewage charges on water used for lawns or flowers, said council President Jim Fortman.

Huntertown contracts with Fort Wayne City Utilities for sewage services. In response to rapid growth and substantial rate hikes, town officials were hoping to build and operate their own $11.2 million sewage plant and to break ties with City Utilities, which has provided the town with sewer service since 1988. That contract will expire in April.

But in October the Indiana Department of Environmental Management denied the town’s proposal to build the plant.

Town officials recently sent an appeal to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management regarding their decision, Frederickson said.

Utility board changes coming

In other business, the council plans to officially abolish its current utility board in December and appoint a new board by Jan. 1, Fortman said.

The current board is made up of all five council members.

Residents voted in support of a referendum on the spring ballot to create a new board that would have no more than one council member and then affirmed that vote earlier this month with a new ballot question.

Fortman said the council will decide whether they want a three-, five- or seven-member utility board.

Once that is decided, he will appoint the majority of utility board members and the council will appoint the rest, Fortman said.