State Mandated Sewer Work Will Mean Nearly $50 Rate Hike

For over 15 years sewer utility customers of the town of Crothersville have read about the coming rate increase that is a result of the state mandated Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) designation.
Crothersville was one of 106 communities that had sanitary sewer and surface storm water being sent to the wastewater plant for treatment. During times of heavy rain, too much water flowed to the plant to be treated. Some combined sewer and storm water bypassed the plant leaving raw sewage to flow towards the Muscatatuck River west of town.
The state Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) mandated that the town fix that problem. For nearly two decades the town negotiated with IDEM on a workable, practical solution.
Earlier this year the town council found out the cost of eliminating the town’s CSO designation: renovations that cost over $6.4 million.
Earlier this summer the council also learned the town was approved for an OCRA (Office of Community and Rural Affairs) grant of $700,000 to use toward the project.
And at last week’s town council meeting, sewer ratepayers now know their cost in the state required sewer upgrade.
According to Steven Brock of rate consultants Therber Brock of Indianapolis, Crothersville sewer customers should brace themselves for a nearly $50 monthly sewer rate increase.
Brock provided a calculation based on financing the $5.688 million project (after grants are deducted), and obtaining a hoped for 3.23% State Revolving Fund loan for 35 years. The monthly cost of repaying that loan per utility customer using 4,000 gallons will be around $76.50, up from the current $29.79 monthly cost.
Without any grant money to offset the financed amount, ratepayers would have seen a sewer bill approaching $100 each month.
“Of course, everyone’s bill will be a bit different since water and sewer bills in Crothersville are based on consumption of water,” said town council president Danieta Foster. “Use less; pay less.”
The proposed sewer rate increases are expected to take effect in early 2021, Brock said.
It was noted that Crothersville has a combined water-sewer-trash collection-recycling-and storm water bill making it difficult to compare rates with other communities and utilities that charge just for water or just for trash pick up.