New city sewer rate ordinance heading to city council

Columbus City Hall exterior is shown in this Republic file photo. Mike Wolanin | The Republic

COLUMBUS, Ind. — Columbus City Utilities’ plan for a phased-in sewer rate increase will have a first reading at next week’s Columbus City Council meeting.

The utilities board voted Monday to adopt new sewer rates. City officials have said in the past that the sewer utility, unlike the water rates, is not regulated by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. As a result, a sewer rate increase would not need to go through the commission’s lengthy approval process.

Instead, it would need to be approved by the utilities board and city council, with the latter requiring two readings before final approval.

The city’s new sewer rate and water rate ordinances will both have their first reading at next week’s city council meeting on June 1, said Executive Director of Administration and Community Development Mary Ferdon.

Doug Baldessari with Baker Tilly, a firm that has been retained by city utilities for services related to both rate cases, said in a previous meeting that if everything goes according to schedule, the new sewer rates would be effective on Aug. 1.

At the same meeting, Interim Utilities Director Keith Reeves said customers will likely see a change in their water bills starting in August, provided the new water rates (which were authorized by the IURC in March) are approved by city council.

A 4,000 gallon monthly sewer bill for a residential customer is currently $31.10 in Columbus, Baldessari said. His May 20 presentation showed that the cost would increase to the following amounts under the proposed rates:

Phase I: $34.94 (begins on adoption of the rate ordinance)

Phase II: $38.09 (begins Jan. 1, 2023)

Phase III: $40.37 (begins Jan. 1, 2024)

Commercial and industrial customers would see a higher rate of increase under the proposal.