Area residents whose sewer service is provided by the Allen County Regional Water and Sewer District should soon get a break on their bills.
With a $5 million contribution from the Allen County commissioners last month, the district will be able to retire some of its debt and lower residents' bills by 11% across the board, city officials said Monday.
The reduction means the majority of residential customers now paying $132.67 a month will pay $118.07 beginning with their July bills, said Erika Beachem, office manager.
The district has about 3,200 customers, mostly in unincorporated areas of Allen County, she said.
The sewer district's board also plans to refinance the agency's remaining debt because of favorable bond market conditions, said Andrew Boxberger, the district's attorney. Refinancing can save money through lower interest rates, a shorter term and/or a lower borrowed amount.
County Commissioner Nelson Peters said the commissioners had been interested in lowering residents' sewer bills, as their cost has been an issue for some time. The district's rates were found to be “the highest in the state of Indiana,” Peters said, adding that the reason was the amount of debt.
“The district grew faster than it should have, and we were hooking up people faster than we should have,” Peters said. “We wanted to do something to bring the rates down.”
Peters said the $5 million will come from the Community Economic Development Income Tax, or CEDIT, fund. The county has been able to save that money over several years, he said.
The district is contributing $3 million of its own cash on hand to bring debt down by about $8 million, leaving about $12 million in debt, Boxberger said.
The debt will be refinanced through the Indiana Finance Authority's State Revolving Fund, Boxberger said.
The fund provides loans at the lowest possible interest rates for wastewater and drinking water improvement projects.
Peters said he had hoped bills could be brought under $100 a month. He said he will meet soon with representatives of City Utilities to discuss that agency's participation.
Boxberger said a public hearing on the measure took place March 24, but no one from the public attended. The commissioners unanimously approved their contribution April 23.