Sewer rate hike smaller than expected

An upcoming sewer improvement project will cost less than expected, softening the blow for Huntington residents who will help pay for that project through a sewer rate increase.

The Huntington Common Council voted 5-1 on Tuesday, Jan. 8, to institute an 8 percent sewer rate hike. The increase will about to about $2.50 a month for the average residential customer and will become effective with the next full billing period.

The proposal originally presented to the council called for an increase of up to 14 percent, which would have meant a monthly increase of $5 for the average residential customer.

The additional revenue generated by the higher rate will be used to pay for the next phase of a state-mandated project to stop raw sewage from flowing into area streams. Work will include separating stormwater lines and sewage lines in the Frederick Street area and related projects.

Engineers had estimated the total project cost at $6.5 million. When bids were opened last month, they ranged from a low of $5.4 million to a high of more than $9 million, reported Anthony Goodnight, director of public works and engineering services for the city.

The low bid, more than $1 million under the estimate, was submitted by Dunigan Brothers of Jackson, MI. The city's Board of Public Works and Safety has awarded the contract to Dunigan Brothers, Goodnight said.

Councilman Greg Davis voted against the rate increase, and Councilman Jim Long was absent.

In other business:

• Council approved on second and final reading the combination of the city's street, sanitation, garage and parks and recreation department into one City Services Department.

• Council gave final approval to rezoning property at 1500 Etna Ave., owned by James and Linda Schroeder, from low density residential to business.

• A request to rezone property at 1929 W. Park Drive, owned by George and Barba Eickhoff, from light industrial to conservation received preliminary approval.