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 Carthage Water Customers May Get Soaked

October 10, 2007 - Less than a year after their water rates were increased nine percent, Carthage utility customers could see their water bills more than double if the Carthage Town Council passes a proposed later this month.

During a special meeting last week, the Carthage Town Council introduced Ordinance F-2007, which, if passed, will raise current water rates 126 percent. The council will hold a public hearing on the proposed ordinance at 9 a.m. on Saturday, October 27, at Carthage Town Hall, 6 W. First St.

If the council approves the rate hike, water customers will see their monthly costs go from $7.34 to $16.59 for the first 2,000 gallons of usage, and from $13.22 to $29.88 for the first 5,000 gallons. Copies of the new ordinance, which includes a full rate schedule, are on file and available for the public to review at Carthage Town Hall during regular business hours. (A copy of the ordinance is also published on Page 16 of this week's Banner - Ed.)

According to the ordinance, the rate increase is being sought to help pay for needed improvements to the water utility, as well as its continued maintenance and operation. The ordinance says the rate increases, based on a study done by an Indianapolis accounting firm last fall, are "reasonable and just."

This past summer, the town received a grant worth $500,000-$525,000 from the state's Office of Community and Rural Affairs that will be applied toward a planned water improvement project. Even though the town also hopes to get a $478,200 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of Rural Development, it is anticipated that the town will need to borrow another $1.6 million to fund the project fully.

The water utility improvement project will include installation of a new well field and construction of a new water treatment facility. It will also entail installation of new 150,000 gallon water tank and demolition of the current 100,000 tank, as well as improvements to the town's water distribution system.

The project is expected to result in a lower risk of well contamination by nitrates and a reduction in the amount of water that is lost through leaks in the system at an average rate of 77,000 gallons a day.

Immediately following the public hearing on October 27, the council will conduct its regular monthly meeting that had originally been set for Monday, October 29.


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