City of Westfield proposes water-rate change

Westfield Dept. of Public Works presented a proposal to change the rate structure for how residents are charged for water usage at last week’s city council meeting.

Kurt Wanninger, Westfield Public Works Dept. director,presented a proposed rate structure that focuses on conservation; the rate structure shows residents who use more water will be charged more.

Mayor Andy Cook said water rates were last addressed three years ago, and he added that it’s wise for City Council to address the needed changes to prevent spikes in water rates.

“The proposed structure presented asks City Council, ‘Where’s the breaking point?’ An average home uses 5,000 gallons, so do we charge X amount for 5,000 gallons, and then X plus 10 cents for every gallon above that? It’s determining where that breaking point is.”

Cook said a dry summer showed how Westfield’s growth required several improvements to our water distribution system.

“Our challenge isn’t a lack of water supply; it’s having adequate towers distribution pipes to be able to pump the water in a timely manner to residents. Last summer, we almost had to call for a water restriction because we didn’t have the towers and pipes to get the water here on a timely basis,” Cook said. “We can only push so much water through a straw and our straws need to be bigger.”

Cook said the real message about water rates is that dollar amounts are based on physically-improved featuresneeded.

“We know five to 10 years we need to invest 30 million dollars to keep our system going, that’s not maintenance that’s capital, that’s new tanks, additional treatment capacity and distribution pipes,” Cook said.

An ordinance may be presented as early as the Feb. 13 City Council meeting. If presented, a public hearing will be scheduled for later in February or early March.

According to Wanninger, if the ordinance is passed, it will be at least 30 days before it becomes effective. Westfield City Council will ultimately decide the effective date once an ordinance is passed.

The Mayor’s Office encourages residents to e-mail Westfield city council members with their opinions on rate adjustments and rate restructuring. Visit www.westfield.in.gov for a list of city council members’ e-mails.

 

By Lindsay Eckert
Lindsay@youarecurrent.com

Lindsay is the managing editor of Current in Westfield.