RISING RATES: Increased water rates get final approval (updated)

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Updated 11:08 a.m. 9/20/23

GREENFIELD — The Greenfield City Council has passed final approval to increase the city’s water rates through 2026.

The council unanimously approved the move on its final reading at the Sept. 13 meeting after passing it on first reading Aug. 9.

The vote will increase the city’s water rates gradually over a three-year period, effective on July 1 each year from 2024-2026.

Each increase will go up at a rate of 45 cents per 1,000 gallons of water, which will increase monthly rates by $1.35 cents over the course of those three years.

The newest rate hike comes on top of a three-year annual increase that was passed in 2021, which bumps rates by 15 cents per 1,000 gallons of water on Jan. 1 each year from 2022-2024.

The rate increases are designed to cover the cost of bonds issued to defray expenses associated with upcoming water utility improvements, which are estimated to cost $18.5 million. That includes enhancing the city’s water towers and water main systems.

Larry Silver Jr., who is running for mayor of Greenfield this fall as a Libertarian candidate, was the only person to show up at last week’s public hearing to speak out against the increase.

City leaders say the gradual increases are necessary to provide adequate water service to a growing population while making the bump as minimal as possible for consumers.

Greenfield councilman George Plisinski had said that the recently passed 45-cent annual increase would bump up his monthly water bill by around $1.80 for his family of three.

The councilman said the water tower upgrades are necessary to not only satisfy the consumer demand for water but to keep the city safe, since the water towers are what provide water for the city’s fire department.

The council has worked to come up with a plan to implement gradual increases over time to address necessary water service enhancements rather than hitting consumers with larger rates all at once, he said.

The city’s water utility manager, Charles Gill, said the upcoming water tower and water main project is a necessary step to serve a growing city.

The water utility will install new 12-inch water mains on Franklin to Davis Road, as well as new mains on North Street from Howard to Spring streets and on Osage Street from Pennsylvania to West streets.

The utility will also build a new water tower and upgrade a second tower while a third tower will be retired.

The new 2 million-gallon water tower will be constructed just south of the Greenfield-Hancock Animal Management Center at 740 S. Franklin St., between Tague Street and Davis Road.

Once the new tower is built, the city plans to decommission and demolish the current tower on the west side of town, near Weston Elementary School and St. Michael Catholic Church and School.

The city also plans to upgrade the 1/2 million-gallon water tower in the parking lot behind Hancock Regional Hospital, while the third tower just west of the Hancock Wellness Center on New Road will remain the same.

The improvements dovetail with the city’s plan to build a new water treatment plant on the west side of town since the current water plan will become obsolete within the next five to eight years.

Gill anticipates that the water improvement projects will commence in early fall and will hopefully be complete sometime in 2025.

The public is encouraged to check the city’s website and social media for ongoing updates.