An inadvertant omission in a water rate ordinance introduced Jan. 22 had city officials here scrambling this week to ready a corrected ordinance for introduction at next week’s council meeting.
The Springfield News-Sun reported last week that if an ordinance requesting increases for water rates through 2015 passed at New Carlisle’s Feb. 4 council meeting, it would have also done away with a current minimum administrative service fee of $5 for customers who use less than 1,000 gallons.
City Manager Kim Jones confirmed Tuesday that the city inadvertantly ommitted that language and said Wednesday it would introduce a corrected ordinance to council on Monday. Residents can expect a vote on the new legislation on Feb. 19.
The original ordinance will likely die at Monday’s meeting due to lack of a motion on the floor, Jones said.
The original ordinance would have raised rates March 1 if it had passed Monday. But because the new legislation wouldn’t take effect for 15 days, a rate increase will have to be delayed until April 1.
“We can’t do an ordinance and raise rates on water people have already used,” she said.
If passed, costs would increase to $6.78 per 1,000 gallons from April through March 2014 and to $7.28 in April 2014, according to the ordinance.
The rate is currently $5.78. There hasn’t been an increase since November 2008, according to the city’s codified ordinances.
Jones said an increase is necessary now because the water department loses about $30,000 each year to repair costs, unbilled water leaks and a variety of other factors. The city intends to conduct a water leak study, Jones said.
The department has been able to continue without deficit by tranferring money from its contingency fund, but that fund has run dry, she said.
“We can only do that for so long,” Jones said.
“It’s not something we wanted to do,” she said of the rate increase, but added that rates should have been increased gradually over time. “Now the city is playing catch-up.”