BANGS— City of Bangs water customers will notice a $10 increase in their water bill in February followed a decision by the Bangs City Council Monday night.

The $10 hike passed by a 4-1 vote and begins appearing as a line item on each statement issued by the city of Bangs in February as the city finds funding mechanisms for its $1.7 million water system rehabilitation project.

“Our payment is roughly $85,000 a year and, based on the number of bills we send out every month, we need roughly $10 per bill,” said Nan Billings, who handles public investments for the city of Bangs.

The city currently charges $32.50 as a base rate to its customers. Councilwoman Carrol Wells asked the increase to come as a line item, instead of increasing the rate, so they could drop the item as soon as the city pays off its loan in approximately 10 years.

“In the years to come, as either us or future council members begin to look at increases, it’s going to be harder to explain to the customers,” Wells said. “Right now, the base rate is $32.50 for inside (city limits) residential. If we add $10 on, then that’s $42.50. If we look at a water increase next year, based on whatever Brown County water (development) is billing us, it’s going to show up as too high a number for a water bill. If we do it as debt service, when that water bill is paid off, it would allow that to literally fall off the bill.”

Mayor Eric Bishop brought the $1.7 million water project before the city council in November of 2018, considering Bangs’ current system far exceeding its expiration date. While speaking to The Bulletin in May, then city public works director/city administrator Scott Perry estimated some pipes were more than 90 years old.

“They are way past their useful life. Every time we dig something up, it’s a wonder there aren’t more leaks and breaches in the system at their age,” said Bishop last fall. “This was something that I see as a priority related to public health and safety. Being able to trust your drinking water is at the top of the list. Around 10 years ago the city of Bangs was buying drinking water and providing it to certain parts of town because the water coming out of the tap. I don’t know if it was tested to be not fit for drinking, but there were issues where they had to provide drinking water. We had project a few years back.”

The lone dissenting vote came from councilwoman Marissa Craddock, who suggested a $15 increase to all water customers out of city limits and a $10 increase to those living inside city limits. Residents currently living outside city limits pay $50.50.

“It would help pay it off a little faster. It’s costing us on some of these line breaks outside of city limits a little bit more too,” Craddock said. “We’re servicing a lot of people (outside city limits). Our outside lines are so bad and they’re going to benefit from this also.”