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Valparaiso water, sewer improvements inch closer to reality

Updated: August 17, 2014 6:17AM



VALPARAISO ­­­­­— The water and sewer system improvements being paid for by a series of rate increases are closer to becoming reality.

On Monday, the city council had the first reading of ordinances for two bond issues, and the council members will vote on them July 28.

But the city won’t issue the bonds immediately, said consultant and CPA John Julien of Umbaugh & Associates.

The first bond sale will be for the water system at $18 million and be within 60 days of the ordinance’s passage, Julien said.

The sewer bond will allow the city to borrow $2.6 million, and both bond issues will last 20 to 23 years.

The city has the option of canceling either bond if the interest rate is above 5.5 percent. Julien said rates are now about 4.5 percent.

The increased utility bill rates to pay for the city borrowing through bonds began in January, with customers paying another $11.25 for the average 5,000 gallons of water used a month.

That’s split as a $4.76 increase in water rates — or 19 percent — and $6.49 in sewer rates — or 18 percent.

The second phase happens this month with rates increasing another 10.76 percent for water, or $3.20 per 5,000 gallons, and 8 percent for sewer, or $3.40 per 1,000 gallons.

A third increase is scheduled for January. Rates will increase another 2.79 percent for water — about 92 cents more per 5,000 gallons — and 4 percent for sewer, about $1.84 more.

City Administrator Bill Oeding said the improvements will accommodate city growth and potential economic development and business growth.

Water production will increase to 8.5 million gallons a day with a new well field being built and expansion at the Airport Plant.

The city will build a transmission main line from the wells, a pair of 2 million-gallon water reservoirs, and new filters at the airport water plant, plus make piping upgrades.

Improvements are also planned in the wastewater plant components that are 15 years old. These include high-service raw sewage pumps, piping modifications and variable frequency drives for better use of power and for efficiency, Oeding said.



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