Bloomington is latest city to consider increase to water, sewer bills

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- As communities across central Indiana work to keep up with rising costs, Bloomington has become the latest to request a rise in water and sewer bills.

The utilities department is asking for a 22 percent increase for sewer and another 22 percent increase for water.

Director Vic Kelson says it will be the first hike in five years and it's needed to keep things working well.

"We have a lot of aging infrastructure, about a fifth of our water supply pipes are over 75 years old," Kelson said.

In addition to replacing those aging pipes, the city also has some major projects coming up, and it is still grappling with a water quality issue. Contaminants in the water have been on the rise and it is working to keep levels low and the water safe.

If the increase passes, sewer rates would go up around $5.60 per month, for the average household. That increase would start in January 2017.

Water rates would not increase until January 2018. They would rise $3.50-$4.00 for the average household.

"We’ve stretched our dollars as best as we can, we’ve cut costs where we can," Utilities Assistant Director of Finance Efrat Feferman said.

In order to raise rates, the proposal will first need to pass the utilities service board. President Sam Frank says he doesn't foresee that being an issue.

"For what we’re getting on this and what it’s contributing to the city and our way of life down here, I think it’s a reasonable thing to do," Frank said.

The public can weigh in on the proposal at a May 31 meeting. It will then go to the city council for a vote, and the water rate will also need approval from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.

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