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Water rate increase approved by South Bend common council

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -

City officials have been urging the common council to act on the nagging problem of aging water infrastructure for months.

After being shelved since September, the council approved a water rate hike with a 5-4 vote Monday night.

The city says it needs $88 million to upgrade degraded and failing water infrastructure around the city.

After months of back and forth, the solution to this longstanding issue will cost residents less than what was originally planned.

Before, the city proposed an average water rate increase of about $5 a month for the average home.

Two weeks ago, the city’s public works director laid out a new plan that would see just over $2 more added to the average monthly bill in 2018 and an additional $2.90 the following year.

This cut will only bring in about $22 million.

That’s the compromise this council has been looking for but still; some didn’t want to rush this decision.

“I think it needs to be explained clearly to the people of South Bend and I believe our mayor should take the lead in doing that and hopefully he can do that at tomorrow’s state of the union,” said Oliver Davis, South Bend Common Councilman.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg disagreed, saying the city has been working for over a year on this proposal.

He weighed in this afternoon in a statement saying in part:

“Delivering safe, clean drinking water is one of our most fundamental obligations to the residents we serve. I have confidence that the Council, as the established fiscal body, is prepared to make good on that obligation. We cannot afford further delay on critical funding for needed repairs to our water infrastructure. After months of dialogue with the Council, we presented a compromise proposal nearly three weeks ago that covers only the most urgent needs for the near term, and the time for action has come.” 

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