City of Mishawaka poised to make big investment in utilities

Published: Nov. 30, 2020 at 6:47 PM EST
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MISHAWAKA, Ind. (WNDU) - Mishawaka’s city administration has compiled an ambitious wish list this holiday season with a total price tag of $85.7 million.

“I’m never quite comfortable you know judging from my own budget and then having to deal with numbers like this,” said Mishawaka Mayor Dave Wood during a Zoom interview with 16 News Now. “We’re talking about a utility that serves a city with 50,000 people and a utility that requires constant maintenance and upkeep.”

This comes as the city of Mishawaka is almost at the end of its current 5-year utility plan.

The next proposed plan calls for two bond issues.

One would be paid off through water rates. It would total $51.6 million.

The other would be repaid though electric rates. It would total $34.1 million.

As for the impact on rate payers, water customers would see a 16 percent hike in 2022 and an additional 14 percent increase in 2023.

Electric customers would actually see rates drop seven percent next year and remain that way the following year which promises to cushion the overall blow.

“But the overall impact of that one that one utility bill that our customers get will be over the course of the next, until 2028 about $1.72 per month rate increase,” said Mayor Wood.

“We’re really fortunate in Mishawaka. We have wonderful, stable service from our municipal utilities. I think we’re the envy of all surrounding communities from that standpoint, and that’s accredited to the current management,” Mishawaka Common Council President Gregg Hixenbaugh said during Monday night’s informational meeting.

One Mishawaka resident and former council member shared his concerns with the proposed rate changes during the public portion of the meeting.

“Combined with the rates for trash and recycling pickup, I think we are going to see people on a fixed income detrimentally impacted by that,” resident Bryan Tanner said.

The water improvement package calls for two new water towers on the north side to keep up with pressure demands. A new wellfield and water treatment facility would also be built on the Juday Creek Golf Course.

The electric improvements call for upgrading seven of the city’s 11 substations and replacing all the distribution lines and transformers south of McKinley.

$20 million of the electric bond package would be used to fund the relocation of City Hall to the former Liberty Mutual Insurance building on Lincolnway downtown.

The Mishawaka Common Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing and final vote on the bond proposals and rate changes at its meeting on Dec. 7.

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