ELKHART — Efforts to move a sewer rate hike plan forward to city council was held up Thursday night in committee.
Proposals that would establish significantly higher sewer rates over the next three years and an effort to simplify compact fees for sewer residents outside of the city were both blocked in committee in a move by city council member David Henke.
The committee known as the public works “committee of the whole” — which consists of the nine members of city council — reviewed both issues Thursday night, but could not muster enough votes to recommend it to city council in part because four council members were absent.
Any effort to send it with any recommendations needed five votes.
Other council members sought to move the proposals to council without a recommendation, but Henke voted against both proposals over concerns about details that he said he preferred to be debated by the committee. Both proposals failed with 4 to 1 votes.
Those details could have been hashed out by council, but Henke chose to keep in committee for further review.
The meeting included a presentation from a consultant from Crowe Horwath who explained the plans for the rate hike.
City council is scheduled to meet Monday and had planned to have both proposals on its agenda.
When the committee will meet next was undecided.
Under the proposed rate hike, which is needed to fund a federally mandated sewer project, residential customers would see their monthly sewer bills rise $12.30 over the next three years.
Residential customers will see a hike of $6.36 in 2013, $2.09 in 2014 and $3.85 in 2015, according to information provided by the city.
Council heard complaints and concerns about the rate hike from a half dozen people including several who live in the county and already pay a much higher sewer rate through a compact agreement with the city.
Twelve people attended the two-hour meeting.
Two of the county residents said they already pay about $90 per month and the rate hikes would push that over $100.
On the plan to simplify the compact fees, Henke objected to a proposal that would give non-profit groups a discounted rate.
The rate hike is set to affect in January.