12 Oct Ask The Mayor: Terre Haute’s Bennett On Sewer Rate Increase
The city budget is due in a couple of weeks and the mayor says the city needs more revenue.
On this week’s installment of Ask The Mayor, Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett addresses that plus city infrastructure improvements and whether he still supports Trump as the Republican candidate for president. Listen to the full conversation with Indiana Newsdesk anchor Joe Hren by clicking on the play button above, or read some of the questions and answers below. A portion of this segment airs 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. Wednesday on WFIU.
This conversation has been edited for clarity and conciseness.
Hren: Last time we talked the city council did not approve the storm water fee, I hear a 33 percent sewer rate increase is your next attempt to get the added revenue needed, what’s your latest proposal?
Bennett: The high amount is where we always need to start at. That would get us everything we need, plus a little bit of a cushion to deal with people who don’t pay their sewer bills. Plus we know as sewer bills go up, people tend to conserve water more. I think we have a little room to bring that down, and I think that’s the kind of negotiations we’re going through now.
Hren: The sanitary district voted in favor of the rate increase, but now it goes to city council Thursday night?
Bennett: Well we’ll see if they’re ready to vote on it or not, but there’ll be some serious discussion about that looking at different options, seeing if you want to stick with this one and lower it or do you want to do some other alternatives because I don’t care what the end solution is because we have a dollar figure we have to get to.
Hren: What do you anticipate the response will be from city council?
Bennett: Well they know we have to do something. They just want to make sure it’s not too much and their too much is based on sometimes, push back from the public. Most people are going to be opposed to any sewer rate increase. But when you’re mandated to do this, you have no choice.
Hren: Sounds like Margaret Avenue is getting ready for the next phase?
Bennett: Very excited that our next section from Canal Road to 25th Street that includes an overpass at 19th and Margaret, the bids came back recently, came in under the engineering estimate, so we’ll be doing a groundbreaking here very soon. Utility relocation will occur over the winter, you’ll see us tear a few houses down along the route and then next spring work will begin in earnest.
Hren: We talked awhile back about the presidential election and you said that you would back whomever is the republican candidate, with everything that has been going on, do you still back Donald Trump?
Bennett: It’s challenging, but yes, I’m not giving up on that especially for the sake of change. I think we need change in Washington D.C. I’m hopeful Trump can do that, I don’t believe Hillary will do that and I’m all about we need a shake-up. It’s unfortunate the things he says and does is concerning to a lot of people including myself, but we’ve got to look at the bigger picture here and this is just a crazy election year. Who knows how it’s going to shake out and whoever wins, I wish them much success.