Elkhart raising water, sewer rates to fund mandated upgrades
The Elkhart Common Council has granted a request from the Mayor Rod Roberson administration to raise water and sewer rates.
The city hadn’t raised the rates since 2008, 15 years ago, and it has the lowest rates in Indiana.
But that’s nothing to brag about, said council members who approved the increases Monday. It just means the city has put off needed work for too long.
Like the city of South Bend and many others with aging infrastructure, Elkhart and federal regulators in 2013 entered a legal agreement called a “consent decree.” It requires the city to modernize equipment, and separate sanitary and storm sewers before they empty into the river when it rains. If the city doesn’t, it faces steep fines. The city also plans to remove lead service lines, a mandate that’s coming from the federal government.
The city plans about $25 million of work on the system through 2029.
Both the water and sewer parts of the city’s monthly utility bills will increase. The sewer rate will increase more.
The average monthly water bill will increase by about $6 by 2027, rising from $12.81 to $18.40. But the sewer part of the bill will increase about $6 a year, for a total montly increase of about $34, by 2028.
The increases take effect in 2025.
None of the council’s four Republicans voted for the rate increases. David Henke and Brian Thomas were absent. Megan Baughman and Lewis Ann Deputy voted no.
But Democratic Council Member Aaron Mishler said it’s time to stop putting the work off.
"I understand that this is a hard choice and a very hard vote but I refuse to kick the can down the road again," Mishler said. "We have to address this."