(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the 10th in a series continuing to look at proposed sewers around Tippecanoe Lakes.)
LEESBURG — The possibility of two entities attempting to have sewers installed around Tippecanoe Lakes may be known Tuesday morning following the Kosciusko County Commissioners meeting. The commissioners tabled a tabled decision last Tuesday, Dec. 12, on implementing a feasibility study for a regional sewer district with more information expected to be presented this week.
County commissioners have not publicly voted on any sewer issue. However, individually they are leaning against a sewer conservancy. All three, when contacted, have stated they have concerns about a conservancy district in how it is currently proposed.
“We have two sewer districts in the county already and they seem to be working fine. I’m not sure why we want to reinvent the wheel,” said Cary Groninger. “We are still in the beginning stages of research to confirm what all the needs are for sewer around Tippy Lake and what as commissioners we can do/want to do.”
Brad Jackson, president of the commissioners, stated “I’m opposed to a sewer conservancy district. Not the sewers.” He noted there are several reasons why he is opposed to a conservancy district. “One reason is they have the ability to obtain ongoing costs in one of three ways – property (assessed) valuation tax, user fees or a combination. Utilities, typically, are not based on any property assessed valuation.” He added another objection is the ability for a small percentage of freeholders to support any change in the scope of authority for the conservancy. He noted eminent domain, setting rules for the lake, control the roads, enforce rules for the lake, are some of authorities a conservancy district could have. “Their intention is good.”
Bob Conley, vice president of the commissioners, also has a problem with the conservancy’s ability to levy taxes. “I’m opposed to that,” adding the proposed conservancy is not planning on putting in its own plant but to run the sewer lines to either North Webster, Lakeland or Warsaw. “They want to implement a tax, monthly charges and not even have a plant.” He added the conservancy has the ability to “mess” with a lot of other things.
Conley did note the “verdict is still out” on sewers around the lake, but stated there will be a study with Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Association of Sewer District and a state sewer commission. “We’ve talked with state legislators and the Barbee (Lakeland) sewer district. They (Lakeland) started out that way and had issues doing it, so they switched. It’s easier, more flexible.”
In the meantime, signatures on the Tippecanoe Lake Sewer Initiative petition are being verified by the Kosciusko County Auditor’s Office. Once certified, the list will be returned to the initiative’s attorney, David Hollenbeck, Valparaiso, who will have the responsibility to file it with the courts.
It should be noted the creation of a sewer conservancy district is established through the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. A regional sewer district is created through the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. Should both groups proceed, the final decisions will be up to these two government entities.