City approves tap-in, water rate hikes

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

HUNTINGBURG — Tap-in costs for connecting to the City of Huntingburg’s electric and water utilities will soon increase, as will the water rate to cover a cost increase the city received from Patoka Regional Water and Sewer District.

The Huntingburg Common Council approved the changes Tuesday night after receiving resolutions from the Huntingburg Utility Rate Advisory Board, which met at the beginning of the council’s meeting. A public hearing was held prior to the approval, but garnered no public comments.

The water rate will increase by 26 cents per 100 cubic feet of water. That will be done through a water rate tracker system the utility will now have to adjust rates to cover the increased water cost the city is getting from Patoka, which is a 28.5 percent increase, City Attorney Phil Schneider said.

The average household uses 500 to 600 cubic feet of water monthly. For a household using 500 cubic feet, the monthly water bill will increase by $1.30, Water Manager Gary Meyerholtz has said. For a household using 600 cubic feet, the increase will be $1.56.

Water tap-in fee for a 3/4-inch tap, which is the typical residential tap, will increase from $750 to $1,500; the cost to install it is $1,135. For a 1-inch, the tap-in fee will increase from $900 to $1,800; the installation cost is $1,467. The tap-in fee for a 1.5-inch will increase from $1,100 to $5,000; the installation cost is $4,541. The fee for a 2-inch tap will increase from $1,250 to $6,000; the cost to install the tap is $5,105.

Electric tap-in fees for new installations will increase to $200 for residential, $400 or $2 per amp for commercial and small industrial, whichever is greater; and $1,000 or $2 per amp for large industrial, whichever is greater. The cost used to be $100 for a residential electric tap, though the electric department would actually spend $257 to install the tap. The cost for installing commercial and industrial companies varies, but the tap costs were $200 for commercial and small industrial, and $500 for large industrial; the electric department covered the rest of the installation cost, which also varies.

The fees are for new connections, Mayor Denny Spinner said.

 

The council also:

• Was told that there are several homes in the city that do not have addresses clearly marked, which is a safety issue. City law requires buildings to have a clearly visible address on the building. The council talked about increasing the city’s diligence in enforcing that law. A notice will be put into a utility, to remind owners of the law. The council agreed to do that, and after 60 days have the city’s enforcement department issue fines for those buildings that do not follow the law. The council decided to wait 60 days “to give people some time to get something done,” Councilman Jeff Bounds said.

• Approved a declaratory resolution to establish an economic revitalization area at the Wagon Works Apartments at 419 N. Washington St. This is being done to create a new abatement for the $8 million project developer Paragus is doing to create a 56-unit workforce housing development on the former Wagon Works site. The 10-year abatement that was approved last year was capped at a total of $325,000. Project investors are concerned that the amount would be exhausted before the 10 years, project attorney David McGimpsey explained. The new abatement would remove the cap. A public hearing will be held prior to the council considering final approval. That will be done at the council’s next meeting, which starts at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 26, on the second floor of City Hall, 508 E. Fourth St. It is one of three hearings that will be held that evening. If the change is approved, construction at the Wagon Works site would start this summer, Gary Ritz of Paragus said.

• Agreed to amend an ordinance recently passed accepting Stellar Way, which is in the Hunters Crossing subdivision, into the city’s inventory and eliminating parking on both sides of the street. Residents requested that parking be allowed on the south side of the street, to which the council has agreed. Hunters Crossing’s homeowners association restricts parking on the street, allowing vehicles to be parked for a maximum of six hours a day; legally, a homeowner association’s contract for a subdivision can be more restrictive than a municipality’s rules. A public hearing will be held at the council’s next meeting prior to final approval of the amendment. The hearing will be held at the council’s next meeting.

• Started the process for vacating Market Street, which would turn the street over to the Huntingburg Park Board. A public hearing about the vacation will be held at the council’s next meeting.

• Appointed Mick Kamman as a reserve police officer. Kamman is a 20-year veteran of the Jasper Police Department and is currently a security officer at Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center, Police Chief Art Parks said.

• Heard from contractor Randy Englert about a invoice he received from the city’s water department for repairing a line that was hit while he and his crew were working underground. Englert said he felt the $1,291.79 bill was too high and that two of the four city workers weren’t needed at the site, as he offered to help with the work. He agreed that he should pay for the materials, but he didn’t agree with the entire cost of labor. The council said the city’s policy is that city workers work on city lines. While council members were inclined to leave the bill as is, they told Englert to work with Water Superintendent Gary Meyerholtz and directed Meyerholtz to investigate the bill to make sure the work and cost are warranted.

• Wrote off $14,825.99 in utility debt, which is .08 percent of the revenue generated in 2018. While unpaid utility bills are written off each year to remove them from the city’s assets list, the pursuit for collecting on the bills does not stop, City Attorney Phil Schneider said.

• Approved purchasing a new envelope stuffing machine from Southern Business Machines of Evansville for $11,649. The current machine is so old that getting replacement parts is difficult, Clerk-Treasurer Tom Dippel explained.

• Approved a contract with Evansville engineering firm Clerk-Dietz to establish a rate schedule for various professional services the company can provide, should the city need them. The city has such contracts with different agencies on hand in case work needs to be done on small projects.




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