Huntingburg sewer rates to increase


HUNTINGBURG — No one from the public commented at Tuesday’s hearing about wastewater rate increases.

Following the hearing, the Huntingburg Common Council approved the changes, to help cover the costs of a new wastewater plant.

The first increase will be 8.5 percent in October, which will be reflected on the November bill. The next increase, 11.5 percent, will happen in October 2021, and the last, 10 percent, in October 2022. The increases are being spread out over time to soften the impact for customers.

For customers who use 4,000 gallons per month, their bill will increase from $49.19 to $53.35 with the November bill, $59.49 in October 2021 and $65.43 in October 2022.

The majority of Huntingburg’s customers, about two-thirds, use 3,000 gallons or less. The biggest grouping is the 782 customers who use between 2,000 and 3,000 gallons. Those using 3,000 gallons will see their bill increase from $42.85 to $46.48 with the November bill, $51.83 in October 2021 and $57.01 in October 2022.

Huntingburg also has 558 customers who use less than 2,000 gallons. The monthly bill for those who use 2,000 gallons will increase from the current $36.51 to $39.61 with the November bill, $44.17 in October 2021 and $48.58 in October 2022.

The current wastewater plant treats about 1.4 million gallons per day on average, with a peak flow of 2 million gallons per day. But when the plant exceeds the 2 million gallons per day, tanks are activated to store the excess flow, according a report compiled by Commonwealth Engineers earlier this year. The intent is for the excess flow to be drained back into the plant for complete treatment and discharged to the plant’s ditch. But sometimes the plant exceeds the 2 million gallons per day for multiple days in a row, which exceeds the ability to store the additional flow.

The plant is consistently operating within what was designed to handle instances of overflow, and those instances are becoming more common. That problem has been noticed by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

Upgrading current facilities wouldn’t solve the problem because of insufficient space and the cost of upgrades would be much more expensive. If nothing is done to solve the problems, the wastewater plant could run the risk of discharging untreated water in the future, the study found; also the city could be banned by the state from adding new customers in the future.

The estimated cost for the new plant is $19.7 million.

The council also:

• Held a public hearing on the city’s proposed 2021 budget, which totals $10,276,489. No one commented. The budget is scheduled to be adopted at the council’s next meeting, which is set for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 13 at City Hall, 508 E. Fourth St.

• Approved contracts with Garners Construction to make repairs to the last two homes in the city’s Owner-Occupied Housing Rehabilitation Program. One home will receive $46,250 in repairs, the other $27,000; the homes were not identified. Most of the funding for the program comes from a $350,000 grant from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority; the city appropriated an additional $39,000 for the repairs.

• Agreed to be part of Radius Indiana’s application for grant funding to place an electric vehicle charging station near Market Street Park. If awarded, the city would receive $9,000 from the grant and supply $6,493 to cover the cost of the station. Radius Indiana is the regional economic development group serving Dubois and seven other counties.

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