Carmel residents will see their monthly water and sewer rates increase next year.
In separate votes Monday night, the Carmel City Council unanimously approved a 35% increase to the city’s water rates and a 20% hike to its sewer rates. The increases will take effect within 30 days.
An average residential customer who uses 4,000 gallons of water per month will see their water bill increase from about $26 to $37 per month, according to Scott Miller of the Indianapolis office of public sector advisory firm Baker Tilley Municipal Advisors.
“That still leaves us right in the middle of other surrounding utilities,” Miller told the council. “When we look at other utilities in our area, we are still better off than Westfield, Lebanon, Lawrence, Muncie, Indianapolis, Noblesville.”
Carmel City Council President Jeff Worrell provided background on the reasoning for the increase, which would be used to offset increasing costs for Carmel Utilities.
He noted that in 2001, there were three different water companies that provided water service to Carmel with one company owned by the city of Indianapolis. From 2002 to 2006, the city worked to consolidate its water services to a single utility.
In 2008, the city council authorized $85 million in bonds to build a new water plant, install new wells and put in larger water mains. The rate increase would be used partly to pay for restructuring outstanding bonds from the 2008 transaction.
City Councilor Tony Green said residents have asked him if there is any way the 35% increase could be phased in. Miller answered that would not be recommended.
“We anticipate doing that financing in the spring as soon as we can after the first of the year. So on the water utility, I would not recommend doing a phase-in on the rates,” Miller said.
Worrell said the sewer rate increase is necessary because future development will require Carmel Utilities to make expansions to its sewer lines, including one near Keystone Parkway.
“The line is fine today, but with future growth and trying to time any kind of an expansion with possible road improvements on Carmel Drive and some roundabouts, it doesn’t make sense to tear up a road once and then do it again,” Worrell said. “So, there is somewhat of a need to move now on the wastewater.”
The city council offered public hearings on both the water and sewer rate increases, but no residents rose to speak in favor or against the moves.