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New Haven sewer hike advances

New Haven residents will likely see a jump in their sewage bills this year after City Council members agreed Tuesday to move forward with a proposed sewer rate increase.

The proposal calls for a 42 percent hike on residents’ sewer bills.

The increase would amount to $22.29 a month on a basic bill, said Brenda Adams, the city’s clerk-treasurer.

A customer using 5,000 gallons of water a month – sewage rates are calculated by water usage – would pay $75.35 a month. Currently, that same customer pays $53.06 a month, Adams said.

The last rate increase was in 2006, when the council unanimously approved increasing sewer rates by 60 percent to help pay for a $7.9 million project to finish separating the city’s sewers.

While New Haven owns its own conveyance system, the city pumps its wastewater to Fort Wayne City Utilities for treatment. Those bulk rates have increased significantly in past years, Adams said.

In 2003, New Haven paid City Utilities $689,453 for sewage processing; in 2013, the city paid $1,689,453, she said.

In the past, sewer overflows – caused by rain and surface water during heavy rainfalls – have resulted in backed-up lines flowing into the rivers and into homes because sewer lines were overloaded.

Last fall, council members agreed to a plan that would retain, treat and release excessive overflows in New Haven should Fort Wayne’s lines become overloaded.

City Utilities was unavailable for comments Wednesday because of the weather.

A first reading and vote on the rate increase will take place at the next meeting March 25, and a public hearing will be scheduled before a final vote is taken.

Tax break granted

Council members agreed to offer a tax incentive for Central States Enterprises, a large grain storage company that is investing more than $12 million at its New Haven operation.

The seven-year tax abatement will save Central States $129,000. The company plans to add a $2.66 million grain receiving system – including a dump pit, conveyors and dust system – that will significantly increase unloading capacity.

Last summer, Central States spent $7.9 million on two concrete grain silos and related equipment at its 356 Hartzell Road operations. The company’s growth includes $3.3 million spent four years ago on a concrete grain silo and components.

In paperwork filed with the county, Central States lists Louis Dreyfus of Claypool, ADM of Decatur, Ill., and Zen-Noh Grain in Covington, La., as its largest customers.