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Huntingburg Utility customers are another step away from experiencing a substantial jump in their sewer rate.

Thursday morning the Huntingburg Utility Rate Advisory Board and the city’s Board of Public Works held a joint meeting where both groups approved an 18 percent increase to the city’s sewer rate.

Increase which is still pending an approval by the Huntingburg City Council would take effect on the first of January.

The increase was first recommended to help pay for upcoming projects and increased costs of utility management of the city’s wastewater system.

With the system operating at capacity now, the city is undertaking several projects to facilitate the greater demands that will come with the planned Hunters Crossing housing project.

The upgrades include the addition of a pressurized force main sewage system on the city’s northwest side; the installation of a lift station; and the addition of a gravity sewer system. The work is expected to be completed in three phases.

Both boards were considering the rate increase in one of two phases: either an 18 percent increase all at once, or an 11.7 percent increase in 2016 to cover the wastewater department’s operating cost and an additional increase of 6.3 percent in 2017 to help fund the force main project. This will be the city’s first sewer rate increase since January 2011.

The project will cost a total of $4.3 million and is being funded from three sources; $1.5 million taken from tax incremental financing, $1.4 million borrowed from the city’s electric cash reserve fund and $1.4 million acquired from issuing bonds.

The 18 percent rate increase will be introduced as an ordinance at the next gathering of the Huntingburg City Council set for next Thursday in city hall. That meeting will begin at 7 pm.  The council will hold a public hearing to seek public comment at its meeting at 7 pm Tuesday, December 22nd before giving offering a final approval.

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