By DAVID HAZLEDINE
WARSAW — On Wednesday, May 20, Lakeland Regional Sewer District Board of Trustees voted to extend the suspension of failure to connect penalties through to July 3, in keeping with Gov. Eric Holcomb’s planned timeline for lifting COVID-19 restrictions.
“Staying in concert with the governor is a good thing,” said trustee Frank Kurth.
LRSD Manager Greg Gear informed trustees 10 properties currently remain subject to failure to connect penalties. Three of those were recently purchased in tax or commissioners sales, while several others are under the control of lending institutions, some of which have paid outstanding liens resulting from penalties.
President Jim Haney proposed arranging conference calls between LRSD, property owners and/or lending institutions in an effort to “whittle down” the number of unconnected properties, all of which, Haney noted, “have a grinder waiting … they could get connected and avoid these penalties.” The penalties have reached $100 per day in nearly all cases.
The board also voted to revise its Bad Debt Resolution 2019-02, which was originally created to prevent district properties from going unsold in tax/commissioners sales as the result of unpaid liens. The revised language gives the board “flexibility” to deal with properties on a “case-by-case basis,” said Haney, which “protects the district and the potential buyer.”
During Astbury Water Technologies’ monthly report, Don Neff reported between 20-30 pump replacements, almost all of them rebuilt by distributor Crane Barnes. In response to trustee Bob Marcuccilli’s query as to how the amount compares to other districts, Neff responded it was a “small percentage” of the roughly 1400 pumps in the system and “pretty normal.”
In a rate reduction request by the owner of a property at EMS B6A, the board agreed with Haney’s decision to waive penalties from January and February in the amount of $4,500 and approve a rate reduction after finding the owner, Christine Jinks, met all requirements, including those of Resolution 2019-2 by connecting or attaining approval to connect within 90 days of signing the tax deed to the property, which was purchased in a tax sale.
The board also voted to rescind $21,370 in failure-to-connect penalties at the Swihart residence on Little Barbee Lake after the owner provided information requested by the board proving termination of NIPSCO services in 2013.
“It’s one of those highly unusual, unique situations,” said Secretary Parke Smith. Swihart, he added, “has done everything we asked her to do.” Kurth agreed the decision had a “history to support it.” The one “nay” vote was cast by Haney, who cited an eight-month period in which the owners failed to act.