The Boonville City Council voted to submit a proposal to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to raise water rates by approximately $10 in order to help pay for nearly $8 million in town projects.

The city council passed an ordinance to approve submitting a proposal to raise rates to the IURC at its April 5 meeting.

According to the ordinance, the city is petitioning the IURC to "adjust its water rates and changes in order to recover the increased costs of supplying water and services to customers."

Currently, Boonville water customers who use an average of 2,520 gallons of water pay $15.42 per month. If the IURC approves the new rates, those same Boonville customers would see their water rates increase to $25.83, which is a 68 percent increase.

The council is also applying for a 30 percent matching grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, which would lower the water rate to $24.67, a 60 percent increase.

Boonville City Attorney Mark Phillips said Boonville needs to raise its rates to help pay for the increase in water operational costs.

"Part of what has paralyzed the city for 50 years is that there is an arbitrary decision about (increasing) no more than 'x,' " he said. "The problem is then you don't increase your rates to reflect what your increase in costs are. And we find ourselves in a position where we are now."

Tammy Boruff, Boonville clerk-treasurer, said the IURC made the city lower its water rates in 2006. Then in 2009, the city raised the rates again.

"Then we came back in 2011 to lower them," she said, "and we probably should have never done that."

Boruff said some of the "dream" town projects the new rates could help pay for include new wells, water tank upgrades, water boosters, replacing 100-year old waterlines and upgrading the highway 261 water line and the highway 61 waterline.

"We won't get all that done," she said. "But it's like a wish list."

The council is taking a similar process to the one Chandler is taking toward raising its water rates. Both municipalities may have to wait up to nine months to learn whether the IURC approves or denies the rates.

If the increase accepted, it would not take effect in Boonville until next year.

Marisa Patwa is a graduate of the University of Evansville with a degree in journalism and minor in political science.

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