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The Journal Gazette

January 11, 2017 4:50 PM

New Haven facing 30-percent water rate hike

Rosa Salter Rodriguez | The Journal Gazette

Customers of New Haven's water system will have their chance next month to speak out on a proposed 30-percent rate increase for 2017.

City Council Tuesday night trimmed back the original rate proposal -- a 30-percent hike this year followed by 20 percent increase in 2018 -- and agreed to consider only this year's increase, New Haven Clerk-Treasurer Brenda Adams said Wednesday.

But New Haven officials noted there's no guarantee that rates won't go up again next year if the community continues to face price increases from Fort Wayne City Utilities, which supplies New Haven's water.

Adams said New Haven is being charged 36.2 percent more for water this year -- following a steady beat of annual increases since 2013.

Taken together, the increases add up to nearly 89 percent, according to a report by a city consultant.

At the new rate, customers using 5,000 gallons of water will pay $8.52 more a month. Those using 1,000 gallons -- typical of a single or couple -- will pay $3.61 more a month.

Some residents aren't loving the idea of the increase, said Mike Mowery, president of the Barber's Pointe Neighborhood Association. Mowery has followed water and sewer issues in New Haven for some time and predicted  the hearing at 7 p.m. Feb. 14 will be packed.

"We have some definite concerns," he said. "As Fort Wayne separates their sewer flows and builds infrastructure, here in New Haven, we don't want to feel we're paying the dues for their upgrade," he said.

New Haven already has done that kind of work for its own system, Mowery said.

"An increase is okay as long as it's part of an upgrade to their (Fort Wayne's) water plant or improves water quality or water flow to New Haven. But if it's absolutely of no gain to New Haven but is part of their build-out process, then I think it ought to bring a push-back process from New Haven," he said.

rsalter@jg.net