Bargersville Utilities charges monthly fee for sprinkler system

Fee is charged even during winter months

BARGERSVILLE, Ind. - The hot weather means more people will water their lawns, and some customers of Bargersville Utilities are upset about the monthly fees they must pay to use a sprinkler system.

After 18 years, homeowners are still paying a separate monthly fee if they install an in-ground sprinkler system.

Three years ago, John Jefferson disconnected the sprinkler system at his Center Grove home because of a $10 a month fee added to water bills in 1995 for customers with in-ground irrigation systems.

The additional fee discouraged homeowners from installing and using sprinkler systems, because at the time, the town said it couldn't supply enough water during high-use periods or drought.

Jefferson recently asked the town council to eliminate what he calls an unjustifiable tax.

"I turned my system off 3 years ago as a silent protest for this $10 because I felt it's a rip-off charge and I wasn't going to pay it," Jefferson said.

Out of 13,000 customers, utility officials said that more than 2,000 people pay the monthly fee.

That adds up to $240,000 per year. A second water plant went on line recently to meet increased demand and town officials said that after an upcoming rate study, they could do away with the fee by next year.

“My gut feeling is that the town is sympathetic to the people paying this fee and if we can justify is reducing this fee after doing our rate study, We'd be happy because we know that it's unpopular," said Bargersville Town Manager Kevin McGinnis.

McGinnis said the fee is unpopular because even during winter, the monthly fee is still there. However, not all homeowners objected to the fee.

“I figure that's the price you pay to have water to irrigate your lawn. I trust the company. I'm not sure they're out to rip us off," said Duane Gaither.

When Jefferson waters his grass, it is with a hose and he said it will stay that way, until that monthly fee goes away.

Follow Chris Proffitt on Twitter: @chrisproffitt

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