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DEMOTTE — The NORWEJ (Northwest Jasper Regional District) board approved a water rate increase during a public hearing held on Oct. 28. The increases go into effect in each year on Jan. 1, 2020, 2021 and 2022.

Board President Andy Andree opened the floor for the public, with no comments or questions raised, the board then voted on the ordinance. The three-phase increase depends on the size of the meter with the smallest meter increasing $1.80 per month and the largest at 8 inches at $39.15 per month. The first 10,000 gallons will cost the user $10.20 with a minimum of $7.50 above 10,000 gallons used.

In Phase 2, which goes into effect in January 2021, the increase will again depend on meter size with the smallest at $1.95 and the largest increased to $42.30 per month. The first 10,000 gallons used will cost $11.05, and $8.10 as a minimum charge after that. Finally Phase 3 , which begins Jan. 1, 2022, increases will bring monthly water rates up to $2.10 per month for the smallest meter (5/8 to 1 in.). The first 10,000 gallons of use will cost $11.95, and above that amount will cost $8.75.

Connection fees, tapping and installation charges will increase as well. A $50 reconnection fee will be applied if resident are disconnected due to non-payment.

A bond ordinance was passed for the construction of additions and improvements to the waterworks. Town Manager Heather Tokarz talked to the KV School Board last month about hooking into the town’s water system when it is extended to the industrial park east of town.

Engineer Daryl Knip told the board he is in negotiations for water expansion to the I-65 corridor. He also reported that paint peeling from the town’s water tower is not covered by warranty, and that the painting could wait until spring. He estimated it would cost between $2,000 and $3,000. Board member John Price expressed his lack of confidence in the contractor according to the unofficial minutes of the meeting, and he asked Knip to get estimates.

During regular meter reading, Water Supervisor Bob Barton found several meters that had been damaged by lightning, with one blown apart from a suspected lightning strike. Two of the meters were covered by warranty, but the meter taking the probable direct hit was not.

He reported a fire hydrant behind Holley’s was hit. He recommended bollards be installed after they hydrant is repaired and inspected.

Tokarz said Office Manager Donna Shear and assistant Tracy Day are starting the lien process for past due water balances.

The NORWEJ board meets the fourth Monday of each month at 6 p.m. at the DeMotte Town Hall prior to the town council meeting at 7 p.m.