LOOGOOTEE — City Councilman Rich Taylor spoke out Monday night against a proposed 10 percent sewage rate increase for Loogootee Wastewater Department customers.
The rate increase was approved by a 3-1 vote by the Loogootee City Council during a special meeting Aug. 27. Rick Norris, Fred Dupps and Ron Gilbert voted in favor of the increase, while John Fraley was opposed.
Taylor missed the meeting, thinking it was on a different week. He apologized to the public for missing the meeting, but said he stood with Fraley in opposition to the rate increase.
“It’s an added burden to the people,” with so many other costs going up, Taylor said. “I just didn’t see an emergency for it to be done.”
Sewage rates increased 5 percent September 1, with another 5 percent increase scheduled for March 2013. This was the city’s first sewage rate increase in 10 years. According to information provided at the August 13 council meeting, the average monthly residential sewage bill in Loogootee for 4,000 gallons was $43.10. With a 10 percent increase of $2.14, the monthly bill will eventually rise to $45.24.
After Monday night’s meeting, Fraley explained his opposition to the rate increase.
“I promised when I ran (for council) that I would keep costs down,” Fraley said. “I think we should have looked at a different alternative, see what we could cut first.”
In other business Monday, the council:
Approved sending the proposed 2013 city budget, totaling nearly $1.3 million, to the state Department of Local Government Finance for approval. Clerk-Treasurer Nancy Jones said she anticipates the state may require some cuts before approving the budget.
Approved the low asphalt bid from Calcar Paving, Otwell, for street paving and repairs. Two bids were received.
Set trick or treat hours from 6 to 8 p.m. Halloween night, Oct. 31. The reason the council took action so early was to allow time for churches and other organizations to plan activities for that evening.
During a brief meeting of the Board of Public Works and Safety, prior to the council meeting, Steve Nolan was rehired as a part-time police officer. He had resigned in July to join the state police, but Police Chief Kelly Rayhill said Nolan had broken two ribs while training in defensive tactics at the state police academy. Nolan eventually resigned from the academy. Rayhill asked the board to rehire Nolan to help ease scheduling conflicts in his department when officers are on personal leave.