State seeking public comment about Fort Wayne’s proposed water rate increase

People who would like to comment on the city of Fort Wayne’s proposed water rate increase can send written comments to the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) by Oct. 23 and/or speak at the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission’s (IURC’s) public field hearing in Fort Wayne on Monday, Sept. 24. The hearing will start at 6 p.m. in the Homestead High School auditorium, 4310 Homestead Road. Consumers are encouraged to arrive by 5:45 p.m. for an overview of field hearing procedures and the rate case process.

During the hearing consumers will be able to speak directly to the Commission, under oath and on the record, regarding the case. Consumers will also be able to submit written comments, but commissioners are not allowed to answer questions during the field hearing. However, OUCC staff will be available before, during, and after the hearing to address questions about the process.

Current rates for Fort Wayne’s municipal water utility received IURC approval in 2012. The city is proposing a five-phase increase in this case; the first phase would take effect when a Commission order is issued next year, with each following phase to take effect every 12 months.

By a 7-2 vote, City Council in June approved a proposal to phase in an average monthly increase of about $1.50 over five years beginning in 2019. The proposal would increase the monthly bill for a typical customer using 4,000 gallons by $1.34 in 2019, followed by increases of $1.43 per month in 2020, $1.53 in 2021, $1.57 in 2022 and $1.67 in 2023. Fort Wayne is also seeking IURC approval to issue up to $85.5 million in long-term debt.

According to its testimony and exhibits, the city is seeking the changes due to increased operating and maintenance costs, and to pay for numerous proposed capital improvements. Consumers who wish to submit written comments for the case record may do so via the OUCC’s website at www.in.gov/oucc/2361.htm, via email at uccinfo@oucc.IN.gov, or by mail at: Consumer Services Staff Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, 115 W. Washington St., Suite 1500 South, Indianapolis, IN 46204

The OUCC needs to receive all written consumer comments no later than October 23. Comments should include the consumer’s name, mailing address, and a reference to “IURC Cause No. 45125.” Consumers with questions about submitting written comments can contact the OUCC’s consumer services staff toll-free at 1-888-441-2494. An IURC order is expected during the first half of 2019.

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