HUNTSVILLE — The mayor and board of aldermen here finalized a 20 percent rate hike for sewer customers Thursday afternoon.

After a public hearing with no one present, the board voted 4-0 with alderman Jody Newport absent to pass the second reading of an ordinance increasing sewer rates 20 percent across the board. The first reading of the ordinance was passed by the board in November.

The rate hike was essentially mandated by state water and wastewater officials in response to the financial condition of the town's sewer system, and is similar to rate hikes mandated in Scott County and Oneida, as well. It is also likely just the first of three 20 percent hikes in successive years, unless something happens to drastically alter the sewer system's bottom line.

Following the vote, mayor George W. Potter said that it was a measure that simply could not be avoided.

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