A new water rate hike plan emerges in Lawrence

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LAWRENCE, Ind-- After some public concern, the city of Lawrence is re-tooling its proposed water rate hike.

The original plan called for a near doubling of water rates within two years. Now, Mayor Steve Collier says the new proposal is much more manageable.

Under the plan, rate increases for those that would be affected most adversely, such those on a fixed income, seniors, and those with low usage, will be reduced.  The plans states that those reductions will roughly translate to a $4 increase for those who use less than 1,200 gallons per month, and an increase of roughly $10 for those that use 1,201-2,000 gallons per month.

The increase will only take place for the first phase of the plan, or the year 2018. No other increases will be implemented through phases 2-4, or the year 2020.

“Essentially I think it’s important that we attend to the people that are going to have the most trouble making any increase whatsoever,” Collier said.

The standard user who does not fit those categories will still see their rates practically double. However, those increases will now be spread among four years rather than two. That increase translates to a $22.41 dollar average bill in 2017 to a $44.65 average bill in 2020.

“We set to work trying to whittle down where we could. There wasn’t a lot of room to work with but we did what we could,” Collier said.

However the changes to the plan means the city will have to delay much needed infrastructure improvements for a full year.

 “We’ll be able to certainly get by for the next twelve months. We’ll receive about eighteen months of revenue and then at the end of 2018 essentially we’ll be able to do some of the critical work to infrastructure that we know we have to get done,” Collier said.

Collier says that the new proposal is a “bare bones” plan that would still ensure the city could make bond payments. It’s possible the proposal may be voted on next month.

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