If the ordinance is adopted next month, tenants could pay 40 percent more in 2014 and additional 10 percent in 2015 and 2016.
The increase could assist the utility board as it searches for new sources to obtain water. Pictor addressed concerns with the life span of local reservoirs.
“We built a good system. We had five reservoirs. But those reservoirs are heading towards obsolescence,” Pictor told council members on Nov. 13.
He described Bishoff Lake having just ten feet of usable water since the bottom water contains too much silt. A long drought period could contribute to only three or four months of water supply for the city, according to Pictor.
“In no way are we in a water crisis, but in the chance of a severe drought, or a couple droughts, no one knows,” said Batesville Mayor Rick Fledderman. “And it is not something the board, the council, or myself want to take a risk on.”
Pictor said money is better spent on pursuing ground water as opposed to surface water. The ground water could be accessed from an aquifer.
Though the water utility currently has funds in the bank, the additional revenue gained from the hike in water rates could contribute toward the 2014-2018 Batesville Water & Gas Utility capital improvement plans.
“Number one is pursuing and coming up with a long term water supply,” Mayor Fledderman noted. He added that proposed water rates could make the city rate adequate and continue providing a suitable water supply to residents.
“If we don’t have adequate funding to provide first class water supply it is going to hurt the overall community,” Fledderman mentioned.
“I know people who are on fixed incomes and we very sympathetic towards that,” Fledderman said. “But with the increases, it will still have us towards the bottom of comparative communities.”
If approved, the ordinance goes into effect Feb. 1, 2014.