MERRILLVILLE | Monthly user fee rates charged by the Independence Hill Conservancy District will be changing starting Jan. 1.
The sanitary sewer district's board of directors recently approved a measure that aims to create one equalized rate for those served by the district, said Anne Collins, an Independence Hill board member.
There are two rates for customers in the Independence Hill service area, which includes most of the southwest portion of Merrillville.
Some residents living in single-family homes are paying an $11 monthly rate. Those in an area formerly served by Lincoln Utilities are paying a $21.74 monthly fee.
Starting Jan. 1, rates for the single-family homes in the former Lincoln Utilities area will drop to a $19.59 monthly fee, according to the fee schedule. The rates for the other single-family homes will increase to $13.15.
The sewer district's fee schedule will change again Jan. 1, 2015, when there will be one monthly user fee rate of $16.37 for all single-family homes.
The current $21.74 rate was approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission in 1990, months before Independence Hill took over operations of Lincoln Utilities.
Jim Beshears, chairman of Independence Hill's board of directors, said that rate has continued to be in place because of the many improvements that were needed after Independence Hill assumed control of Lincoln Utilities.
The sewer district has completed those improvements, which prompted the board's decision to seek one equalized fee, he said.
Collins also said the district is in the midst of planning a project to install a new sewer line along Taft Street to increase Independence Hill's sewer capacity. That project could start in March, she said.
Ross Township Trustee Joseph Shudick, who lives in the Independence Hill service area, said creating an equalized fee in the district has been needed and the new fee structure "is not unreasonable."
Shudick, a former Independence Hill board member, also urged the district to be frugal. He said there are many residents in the district on a fixed income. Any increases to monthly user fees can affect those residents, he said.