Batesville monthly water rates may rise over the next three years, 40 percent the first year and 10 percent during each of the second and third years.
Batesville Utility Service Board members Tim Dietz and Henry Pictor asked the city council Oct. 14 to vote on their recommendations so the increases could take effect “as soon as possible.”
After consultants at Umbaugh, Indianapolis, conducted a review of city water and gas rates, “Umbaugh recommended we take ... (the water rate) up 80 percent,” Dietz reported. The gas rate will remain the same.
Council President Gene Lambert asked, “What’s an average increase for other communities?” He answered that some municipalities have hiked rates by 70 percent.
If the proposal is approved, the current $14.99 rate for a typical Batesville household that uses 4,000 gallons monthly would climb to $20.97 the first year, $23.08 the second and $25.40 the third. Even the highest $25.40 Batesville monthly rate compares favorably to surrounding water utilities, with four lower and seven higher. A chart showed Rushville was at the low end, charging $16.20 for the same amount, and Decatur County Rural Water was highest, charging $67.71.
Dietz reported, “The water operation is very financially sound.” He said the water increases are needed to provide money for projects. According to Pictor, “We have a big job ahead of us. If we do nothing, you’re going to find our reservoirs are simply going to become wetlands” as they fill up with sediment. The cost of dredging Mollenkramer (Coonhunters) Reservoir is $825,000 and Osier Reservoir $600,000.
In addition to other maintenance, such as replacing old pipes, Dietz contended the board must find extra water to combat upcoming droughts and also meet the water needs of future businesses and homes as the city grows.
“We know that by doubling the size” of three smaller reservoirs – Osier, Feller and Hahn – their water capacities would increase from 28 million to 70 million gallons. Dietz observed that a long-term solution might be to connect to an aquifer. “We have contacted a company that will do a study for us about drilling into an aquifer in Sunman.”