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Council approves new utility rates

In November, the City Council approved utility rate increases that will add up to a monthly increase of $2.83 for the average user. The nine percent increase in water rates, four percent increase in wastewater collection (sewer) rates and five percent increase in storm drainage rates will help fund operating costs, repair and replacement of aging water infrastructure and systems, and ensure continued compliance with state and federal regulations. 

“We have a lot of assets in the ground—almost half a billion dollars’ worth, including more than 1,000 miles of pipe,” Budget Manager Cindy Rollins said. “And most of it is approaching an end of useful life scenario.”

To evaluate the infrastructure’s condition, the City has been building an inventory of all assets, including notes on when and how particular segments have failed in the past and areas that require constant upkeep. 

“If we were to replace all our assets based only on end-of-life estimation, we could be looking at costs exceeding $600 million in a five-year span between 2055 and 2060,” Rollins said. “That would be on top of the regular operations budget for water, wastewater and storm water, which totals $35 million.”

To avoid paying more than $600 million in infrastructure improvements in only five years’ time, the City is budgeting rate income now to fund some of those replacements sooner. 

The City aims to continue providing utilities at rates among the lowest in the metro area. Bloomington has lower rates for softened water and wastewater collection than several neighboring communities, including some that don’t provide softened water.