Continuing his proactive efforts to help residents in southwest Fort Wayne, Mayor Tom Henry is asking the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) to reduce the sewer rate increase requested by Aqua Indiana.
Mayor Henry is concerned the 30 percent increase being sought by Aqua Indiana is too much and has asked City Utilities to file a request to have that rate reduced by the IURC.
“It’s critical for customers of Aqua Indiana to be treated fairly,” said Mayor Henry. “We are advocates for lower rates as we continue our efforts to provide sustainable and affordable services for residents and businesses to move our community forward in the right direction as an economic development and quality of life leader.”
Last week, the City of Fort Wayne challenged the Aqua Indiana’s rate hike on the same day the Office of Consumer Counselor (OUCC) did. The OUCC is recommending limiting the increase to less than 16 percent. The City supports the OUCC’s request but is also advocating for a lower monthly service charge (sometimes called a minimum charge) and a five-year phasing-in of any eventual rate hike from Aqua Indiana. The recommendations would lessen the impact on customers.
Mayor Henry’s recommendations come on behalf of the more than 8,000 Aqua Indiana customers who are also City residents. The City’s reduction request is derived from an in-depth review of technical, managerial and financial information of Aqua Indiana’s proposal.
City of Fort Wayne recommendations:
· Decrease Aqua Indiana’s minimum monthly service charge
· Decrease Aqua Indiana’s unmetered residential rate
· Increase the phase-in of any eventual rate increase from two years to five years
· Adjust the initial, one-time development charge assessed to developers/new customers of Aqua Indiana to better insulate existing customers from the costs of system growth
· An improved plan to provide public sewer service to those residents in their service area with failed or failing septic systems
· Establish City Utilities as a local pay station for Aqua Indiana customers at City Utilities’ customer service office at Citizens Square
· Create a combined bill for water and sewer charges for City Utilities water and Aqua Indiana sewer service for the convenience of customers
If the City’s recommendations are adopted, the changes to the monthly service charge* to Aqua Indiana customers would benefit smaller households and reduce their sewer charges as follows:
|Current||Per Aqua Indiana proposal (after complete phase-in)||Per City Utilities recommendation 6/24/2016|
|Residential customer (5/8” meter size)||$26.97||$35.00||$23.19|
*Volumetric charges could be added to any monthly service charge based on customer consumption
Mayor Henry is also encouraged that the OUCC concurred with the original agreement between City Utilities and Aqua Indiana that any costs to Aqua Indiana for expanding their treatment plant capacity to treat sewage from City Utilities on a wholesale basis should be provided for from the added revenue from City Utilities and not Fort Wayne ratepayers of Aqua Indiana’s sewer service.
The City will continue to monitor and provide review and testimony regarding Aqua Indiana’s rate increase request. In August, formal hearings will take place in Indianapolis.