City utility rates will be rising

    Utility rates in Decatur will be going up in the near future, but it has nothing to do with a new batch of sewage which will be coming Decatur's way from several rural areas.
    Last week, the board of the Adams County Regional Sewer District board selected a subcommittee to negotiate with the city the rates it (the city) will charge for county sewage sent to the Decatur treatment plant.
    Through a federal grant, sewer lines will be constructed to serve the unincorporated areas of Monmouth, Bobo, Pleasant Mills and Arcadia Village, a total of approximately 233 residences.
    John Skomp of Crowe Horwath LLP, an Indianapolis firm hired to serve as rate consultants for Decatur, said at the sewer district board's meeting that Decatur's rates aren't enough to cover current expenses and will have to be increased..
    Skomp said the rates “are not bringing in sufficient revenues to cover expenses” and added that rate hikes will be recommended in the near future.
    Mayor Schultz said at Tuesday night's city council meeting that some people are under the impression the city will raise rates due to the new influx of outside sewage. Not true, he added. The city has to raise rates because those currently in place aren't sufficient to cover expenses, mainly due to unfunded mandates the city has been saddled with.
    "We will make sure citizens of Decatur will not pay for sewage coming from outside the city," he said.
    Replying to a question, Schultz said that due to expansion of the treatment plant in 2008, the city has enough capacity to handle the new sewage.
    The mayor asked for two members of council to sit on the committee to negotiate with the county committee and got the okay from Bill Crone and Cam Collier. They will join Skomp, utilities head Dan Rickord, Schultz and City Attorney Tim Baker on the panel.
    County Attorney Mark Burry said the county sewer board's meeting that the project could go out for bids early next year. The construction would take approximately 18 months and users in the targeted areas would be required to tie into the new sewer system within 90 days of completion.