Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Compromise on Utility Plan Benefit All

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Compromise on Utility Plan Benefit All

Article excerpt

Last week's Evansville City Council meeting showed why we elect representatives and then hope they fulfill their promise. I don't profess to understand the intricacies of the Johnson Controls water- meter project that the council agreed to fund. Touted as "Smart City 2.0," it started two years ago as a more far-reaching (and expensive) program in Jonathan Weinzapfel's mayoral administration before being downsized in recent months by the council, Mayor Lloyd Winnecke and the Evansville Water and Sewer Utility, fronted by Allen Mounts.

The project as approved will cost $45.3 million, nearly $12 million less than the original plan. Some 47,000 aging water meters will be replaced with devices that will more accurately reflect water usage (and billing) and make it easier and quicker to find leaks. Removed from the proposal was a design for fiber optic cable throughout the city to create pretty much universal Wi-Fi.

While that was a grand plan, council members led by Stephanie Brinkerhoff-Riley had reservations about the costs - especially with the looming, EPA-mandated $500-plus million, three-decade sewer project.

So the council and the mayor met. Members and Mounts met. And a workable solution was found, one that will result in higher revenue simply by capturing all the water use.

While councilman Al Lindsey voiced trepidation over already struggling users perhaps facing higher bills - he noted a family member's monthly charge already exceeded $100, though that seems extraordinarily high - it only seems right that people pay for what they receive. Otherwise, untapped water costs are borne by all.

Currently, according to the utility department, an average user consumes about 4,000 gallons per month.

For someone inside the city limits, that amounts to $14.09 for water, $27.12 for sewer, $2.07 for fire protection, $10.65 for trash pickup and recycling, and $1.13 in tax for a total of $55.06. For someone in the county, it's $14.09 for water, $36.60 for sewer, $3.45 for fire protection, and $1.23 for sales tax (with no trash pickup offered) for a total of $55.37.

So as the process played through, you couldn't blame the council members for patting themselves on the back. …

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