CHURUBUSCO — There was a new face at the last Churubusco Council meeting. Devin Keener was sworn in as the newest member of the council.

He replaces the position left vacant by Bruce Johnson in January. Johnson stepped down after a lengthy battle with COVID-19, which he said zapped his energy for some time.

Keener was ready to get to work, diving into the latest topic for the town — sewer rates.

A member of the community attended the council to express concerns over high water bills they felt they were receiving.

Council members agreed to look into the matter, but noted there are water rate minimums that have to be met in order for the town’s system to operate.

It was a subject Keener said was weighing on him, adding he hoped to get more information out to the public about the minimum rates needed to “keep things running.”

“There has to be a minimum,” he said, and he didn’t shy away from the reality a discussion will soon be had on the need to raise sewer rates in town.

Last week council members started sharing that discussion, taking a closer look at past studies done on the town, each indicating the need to raise rates. In the past, the decision to do so had been postponed. Now, the town faces the need for upgrades to the sewer plant, as well as other projects to improve the town’s infrastructure. Town officials hope to keep the bond needed for this project at $7.5 million.

“We’re dealing with the councils of the past not adopting those small changes (small rate increases). Now we have a sewer plant that needs upkeep but with a rate just keeping us by,” shared Councilman Mark Pepple. “We’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. We have to do this to make opportunities for our community.”

Keener agreed, saying, “we can’t let it go further and have a break down without a sewage plant.”

What the council hopes to see is a strong showing of the community at a public hearing once the ordinance regarding this issue is introduced, which is likely to occur next month.

Opportunity is already happening for Churubusco. Clerk-Treasurer Madalyn Sade-Bartl shared at the meeting the town was in talks with Granite Ridge Builders, who had recently purchased land to build homes near Threshers Ridge. Part of that discussion includes the need for the town to provide water to the homes. She shared that Granite Ridge hopes to begin work yet this summer.

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