Gonzalez testified that people already can't pay their bills and that businesses may leave the Heights if the water rate increases. One business has already said the increase, as proposed, would kill it.
In the new contract, Hammond has proposed a rate increase from 57 cents per 1000 gallons to $2.20 per 1000 gallons.
Since the City's 30-year contract with Hammond expires Monday, Nov. 12, the Heights is asking a federal judge to issue a preliminary injunction that keeps Hammond from shutting off its water until the federal court or state regulators decide a new rate, according to Corporation Counsel T.J. Somer. The injunction also requests that the rate stays at 57 cents per gallon until the new rate is decided.
Somer said the judge will make some determinations based on how the Heights' separate case against Hammond goes, which was filed before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. Heights officials will appear at that hearing in Indianapolis on Friday.
U.S. District Court Judge Jon DeGuilio told all parties he would issue a ruling before the current contract expires.
Gonzalez said while he was aware the Heights would pay a different rate in the the new contract, he did not learn until July that Hammond would use Chicago's astronomical rates as the basis for it's increase.
Hammond Water Works Department head Ed Krusa said in court he never indicated a new rate would be based solely on the cost to provide water, the Northwest Indiana Times reports.
Follow the Heights-Hammond water dispute, as it unfolds, on Patch:
- City Hits Impasse In Hammond Water Negotiations
- Heights Car Wash Owner: New Water Rates 'Would Put Us Out'
- The Thing About Water: Heights vs. Hammond