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Only Three Protest Water Rate Boost
May 28, 2008 - Although a dozen Knightstown water customers signed a petition requesting last week’s public hearing on a proposed 47.8-percent hike in water-rates and charges, not one of them testified during the proceeding.
Only three local citizens spoke at the public hearing, which the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission held May 20 in the Knightstown High School auditorium. None of the three had been among the 12 persons who signed the petition requesting the hearing.
“I’m not against a raise,” Maurice Lewman, the first to testify, told IURC Commission Jeff Golc. “It’s the amount I’m concerned with.”
While the town has not sought an increase in water rates and charges since 1991, Lewman said a fire hydrant rental fee had been added to customer bills in recent years. In his own case, he said the fire hydrant fee had increased his monthly bill about 12 percent.
The second person to testify was Bill Dawes, a water customer who lives just south of Knightstown. Like Lewman, Dawes also said he was not against some increase; he questioned, however, whether a 47.8-percent increase is justified.
“If we give them a rate increase, why can’t we see something for our money?” Dawes asked, complaining that Knightstown’s hard water results in some plumbing fixtures having to be replaced every couple of years. He said he also objects to future plans to spend $40,000 on a new pickup truck or $50,000 on a new backhoe for the water utility.
The final person to testify at last week’s hearing was 81-year-old Ruby Derrick. She said her primary concern was for the town’s elderly, many of whom she said have fixed incomes.
“There’s other people in town who don’t get as much as I do,” Derrick said. “I don’t know what we older people are going to do if they keeping raising the prices on everything.” If an increase is going to be approved, she suggested that consideration be given to offering older customers with limited incomes some kind of discounted rate.
Anyone who was unable to attend last week’s hearing who still wishes to offer comment on the town’s proposed increase in rates and charges should contact the Office of the Utility Consumer Counselor no later than Thursday. Comments may be faxed to (317) 232-5923 or e-mailed to uccinfo@oucc.IN.gov.
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