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Brownsburg Council studies water rate increase options

By Gus Pearcy

The Brownsburg Town Council is weighing options for a water utility rate increase after hearing a study at its meeting Thursday.

Council president Brian Jessen said that rates have not raised since 2010.

Municipal advisor André Riley of Bakertilly reported the study to the council with several options for rate increases from slow to quick over the next several years. The money would be used to develop water department technology and build a new water tower to accommodate the needs of the growing town.

Brownsburg has three bonds for improvements made between 2009 and 2012. The town is required to keep a certain amount of reserves, as well as create a cash flow for projects such as replacing meters that can be read from a central location and detect leaks quicker.

On June 27, council members got an update on the water master plan. Currently, Brownsburg water has 9,100 customers. By 2030, Young estimates that annexation and new residents will grow the utility to 11,700 customers by 2030 and 13,500 by 2039.

The draft master plan indicated that the town may have to build a new water tower to meet the demand. Riley showed the council four variations of plans to increase monthly bills to achieve the necessary capital to pay for improvements. Monthly rates for an average residential water bill could increase anywhere from 51 cents to $11 a month, depending on the town’s timeline to achieve goals proposed in the draft of the water utility master plan.

Council member Dennis Dawes said he agreed with the increase in technology proposals but wasn’t sure how fast or aggressive the town should be in raising rates. Jessen said gradual increases to upgrade technology made sense. He also said the council could no longer “kick the can down the road” or delay the rate increases.

“I think that if we look at doing some gradual increases of 2 to 3 percent every year or couple of years type thing, with the growth we are having, it’s not going to be a huge increase, at least on your end, as the resident, but will help with long term planning,” Jessen said after the meeting. “We can start building up those cash reserves, so if we get into a project that we need to do something on that we are a little more prepared for it.”

No plan for a rate increase has been adopted. No ordinance has been proposed. These are early stages of the process. The council will deliberate with town staff before a proposal or ordinance is offered. Any ordinance for a rate increase would require a public hearing.

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