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New Haven considers 31 percent sewer rate increase

NEW HAVEN – New Haven City Council members reluctantly agreed Tuesday to move forward with a proposed sewer rate increase.

Options on how to implement the 31 percent increase – whether in one sum or incrementally – will be discussed at the next meeting.

The measure would mean an increase of over $12 a month for a basic bill based on usage of 5,000 gallons, Mayor Terry McDonald said. That bill would increase from about $57 to $69 a month, he said.

While New Haven owns its own conveyance system, the city pumps its wastewater to Fort Wayne City Utilities for treatment. The city did not have a lot of options, financial consultant Greg Guerrettaz said.

The mayor agreed.

"When we checked into building our own wastewater treatment plant five years ago, the cost was $33 million," McDonald said.

That cost was simply to construct the plant and did not include maintenance or operational costs, he said.

Golf carts

Five council members voted to introduce a new ordinance that would regulate the use of golf carts on city streets, noting that it would be discussed, and amended if necessary, before a final vote is taken.

Several residents in the audience voiced safety concerns and two council members – Sarah DiGangi, R-2nd, and Bob Byrd, R-4th – voted against introducing the proposed new law.

Byrd cited a recent study that said 15,000 die every year due to golf cart accidents, 40 percent of them children.

Carts would not be allowed on major highways, only to cross them, said Terry Werling, R-at large.

Other rules would include factory seating for all occupants, no more than four occupants allowed on one cart, the vehicle must be equipped with a slow moving vehicle sign and no children younger than three would be allowed to ride in the carts.

Carts would also be required to have brake lights, rear view mirror, head and tail lights, turn signals and a windshield, Werling said.

This is the second time Werling has initiated a golf cart ordinance in New Haven. Several years ago, the council decided not to legalize the carts after firefighters, police and EMS raised safety concerns.

Werling told the council Tuesday he had met with those officials and they are now comfortable with the proposed ordinance.