MENTONE – Mentone Town Council approved a motion Wednesday to proceed with a water study with Baker Tilly as long as the Council can find the money to pay for it.

The water study topic came up after Clerk-Treasurer Amanda Yaprak said she talked with representatives of public accounting and consulting firm Baker Tilly and was told the utility receipt tax (URT) was repealed effective July 30.

The URT is the tax imposed on the taxable gross receipts of an entity providing the retail sale of utility services.

House Enrolled Act 1002 authorized the repeal of the URT, which was enacted by the General Assembly of Indiana in March 2022, according to Baker Tilly’s website.

Due to the repeal, Mentone needs Baker Tilly to reevaluate or do a rate study for the town’s water or use the town’s 2012 water study. The town will have to put that information into the town’s utility billing system,  Yaprak said. The utility billing system will have the URT removed so the town can either get a new rate, which costs $6,000 for Baker Tilly to get an evaluation, or use the 2012 study rate, which costs $200.

Council President Jill Gross said if the town did a rate study, the rate could possibly go up. Yaprak said that was correct. Councilman Tim Croy said the rate would more than likely will go up because the last rate study was done in 2012.

Gross asked how often Baker Tilly recommends doing rate studies. Baker Tilly recommends doing rate studies every three to five years, Yaprak said.

Yaprak said the town also needs to do a rate study for its sewer system because the sewer utility is not meeting its expenses.

Utilities Superintendent Josh Shepherd said the sewer rate has been the same forever.

Councilwoman Shelly Krueger asked if the rainwater rates weren’t bringing enough money in to pay expenses. Yaprak said that is correct because there are still bonds the town is paying. Shepherd said when the bonds were redone, the sewer was supposed to be making $6,000 payments a month toward the bonds. Croy said they haven’t been meeting those expenses since January.

Shepherd said he thinks the town should get the rate studies done, but he doesn’t think $12,000 to do both studies should be spent now.

Yaprak said Baker Tilly recommended the water study, which would be reflected in the URT in the billing system. Then next year, the town could do the sewer rate.

Gross said so what the town needs to do is go foward with the water study. Yaprak would have to find a fund for the money to come out of to pay for the study.