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NACS weighs water options

City Utilities challenges Huntertown for service

Huntertown has provided four Northwest Allen County schools with water and sewer for years but is now facing competition from Fort Wayne City Utilities.

“Basically, they (City Utilities) are trying to come in and take one of our schools away from us,” Huntertown Council President Jim Fortman said Monday.

Buildings serviced by Huntertown Utilities include Carroll Middle School on Hathaway Road, Eel River Elementary on Bethel Road, Cedar Canyon Elementary on Coldwater Road and Huntertown Elementary on Lima Road. City Utilities provides services for the district’s other eight buildings.

In April, City Utilities presented the school board with an alternate quote for Cedar Canyon Elementary School, offering to provide water and sewer service for $6,032 annually, compared with Huntertown’s cost of $15,658.

The town does not have a formal contract with the school district, Fortman said.

Huntertown has provided water and sewage services to the schools since they were built, he said.

Monday night, Fortman presented members of the Northwest Allen County School board with projected costs for water and sewer services, noting that the district would save thousands because of new rates expected to be in place by the end of the year.

The district would see a decrease of $31,585 next year when the system switches from a flat rate to a metered rate, Fortman said. Those new rates are based on water consumption.

Superintendent Chris Himsel said school board members will weigh the options and the overall savings and render a decision, but he could not say when.

“I was originally told we needed to make a decision by the end of the year, but I believe that is no longer the case,” Himsel said

Ted Nitza, consultant for City Utilities, said the company could offer a competing quote for services since their contract with Huntertown is set to expire soon.

Huntertown began contracting with City Utilities to process the town’s wastewater in 1988. That contract expires in April.

The town has absorbed many rate hikes from City Utilities, Fortman said.

“Our sewage bill (from City Utilities) has gone up about 8 percent a year, and we have not passed that on to our customers, but now we have no choice,” he said.

The town is expected to increase sewer rates again next year, Fortman said.

The town is in the midst of building a new $1.8 million drinking water filtration plant at the corner of Carroll and Lima roads, part of a larger $4.5 million water project.

Projected revenue from Cedar Creek School was figured into that cost, Fortman said.