City officials soon will begin a series of meetings to discuss a proposed sanitary sewer rate increase.

The proposal calls for increasing sewer rates by 25%. The rates would need to be approved by the Board of Public Works and City Council. If approved, the rate would go into effect February 1, 2007, and last through 2008.

Sewer rates have not been raised since 2001. The last rate increase resulted in over $100 million in sanitary sewer system improvements and the rehabilitation of more than 43 miles of sewer lines to name a few.

Impact on homeowner:
* Small residential user (five units) currently pays $11.93 per month

* This same user would see an increase of $2.98 per month for a total of $14.91 per month

* Family residential user (ten units) currently pays $21.63 per month

* This same user would see an increase of $5.41 per month for a total of $27.04 per month

The increase would allow City Utilities to:
* Invest in high value combined sewer system projects
* Continue to invest in pipeline and treatment system rehabilitation work
* Invest in sanitary sewer interceptors to create capacity for future growth and economic development
* Issue a bond for $25-$30 million to construct major projects

Several near term projects include more than $12 million for future combined sewer system projects. Nearly $9 million is necessary for improvements at the Water Pollution Control Plant. Sewer pipeline projects will total $7.5 million, and the process to begin building separate sanitary sewer capacity will cost $5 million.

The City also faces an unfunded mandate from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reduce the number of combined sewer overflow occurrences. The City is negotiating with the U.S. Department of Justice on a consent decree to determine how much money the City will need to invest to reduce combined sewer overflows and improve overall water quality. The City'€™s current plan calls for an investment of $250 million over 25 years. Consent decree compliance will be the largest locally funded infrastructure investment in the City'€™s history.

Current schedule of meetings/Additional meetings will be announced in the coming weeks:
4 p.m. Tuesday, October 24 City Council Flood Committee

Omni Room of the City-County Building, One Main St.

7 a.m. Monday, November 6 Chamber of Commerce Business Forum
Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce, 826 Ewing St.

6:30 p.m. Wednesday, November 8 Southeast Area Partnership
Calvary Third United Presbyterian Church, 4700 S. Anthony Blvd.

6:30 p.m. Thursday, November 9 Northeast Area Partnership
Good Shepherd United Methodist Church, 4700 Vance Ave.