Photo: Bland M. (Flickr)
Martinsville residents will likely have to pay 40 percent more on their water bills in the coming months.
The city of Martinsville is waiting on approval from the Indiana State Utilities Regulatory Commission to implement the increase, which works out to between $6 and $8 more per month for the average resident.
Martinsville Mayor Phil Deckard says the move is necessary because the city needs money for capital improvement projects and it has not raised the utility rates in several years.
“Most of my predecessors, as well as myself have fought increases in utilities, primarily for folks on fixed incomes, the elderly as well as those starting out,” he says. “We hate to see those utilities raised, and perhaps that has been a mistake of past administrations and even my administration.”
Large utility rate increases are not confined to Martinsville. Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor spokesman Anthony Swinger says several cities around the state need additional money to improve their facilities.
“Many utilities are dealing with aging infrastructure,” Swinger says. “For example with Martinsville, you have the Lincoln Street water tank, which has not had significant maintenance since 1993.”
Just last year, Bloomington increased its sewer rate by 53 percent. It had not approved an increase in more than five years.
Bloomington’s Utilities Service Board members have committed to reviewing the rates every two years to avoid large increases in the future.