(La Porte, IN) - A near 30-percent increase in water and sewer rates is proposed in La Porte to upgrade the city’s aging utility system.
Mayor Tom Dermody said the water and sewer needs of one of the oldest systems in the state total more than $100 million. Initially, he said $25 million of the work is planned beginning next year if the city council presented with proposed rate increase and financing Monday night gives it approval on November 2. "I don’t believe we can kick the can down the road any longer. We must take action now,” Dermody said.
The average residential customer would see their monthly water and sewer bills increase from $48.94 to $62.78 by 2024. The rate increase by percentage would be higher for larger consumers. Under the proposal, a commercial user now paying $107.56 would have a monthly bill of $151.41. The monthly bill for an Industrial customer paying $1,931.51 would climb to $3,329.13.
Bert Cook, executive director of the LaPorte Economic Advancement Partnership, said reliable utility service ranks high with companies in deciding where to locate. “It’s one of those criteria that you need to have. If you do not, there’s no way you can grow especially on the commercial and industrial side of things,” he said.
Flooding and basement back-ups caused by single lines carrying waste water and storm water is among the problems officials want to solve by separating those lines beginning next year at Monroe Manor and the letter and number streets. Flood control projects are also on the drawing board next year on B Street and Southmoor Road. Other needs outlined by the city include replacing water lines narrowed from rust build-up and updating the water filtration plant on Lake Street. Dermody said parts of the existing infrastructure, including a brick sewer on Plain Street, were laid in ground before 1901.
Dermody said rates here are currently among the lowest in the area. Even with an increase, he said the rates would still be competitive with what’s charged in surrounding communities and likely below the state average.
The initial work, scheduled for completion prior to 2025, would be paid for with a 20-year bond issue.