By Caleigh Byrer
NORTH WEBSTER — The members of the Tippecanoe & Chapman Regional Sewer District heard from three of the 11 individuals who attended the proposed sewer rate ordinance public hearing Monday, Sept. 12. While there were no objections to the rate, one objection was made to the definitions that defined the rates.
Jeff Rowe, Baker Tilly Municipal Advisors, financial advisor; and Andrew Boxberger, attorney, provided an in-depth presentation on the rates and new ordinance at the beginning of the hearing.
Boxberger reiterated the justification of the rates, stating, “in the sewer world, we say that all systems are built for the Fourth of July because it has to work at the busiest day of the year.”
Additionally, he stated there would be no seasonal or metered properties, allowing benefits for some, but not others. “The rates would skyrocket,” he stated, noting the flat rates were set so all property owners could share the cost.
Roy Ulch questioned if the $200 permit fee required at the time of hookup and the monthly rate would be applied separately. He also questioned the garage definition.
Boxberger clarified that homes with garages would only be charged as a 1.25 dwelling unit if the garage were detached and sewage producing. The $200 permit fee is required at the time of hookup.
Robert Paton asked where community members who could not make it to the meeting could send their comments or questions. Boxberger stated emails could be sent to him at [email protected]. Paton also suggested the board make amendments to their listed definitions so they are in closer accordance with state and federal regulations. Paton will be emailing those amendments, which were originally presented in February.
Jane Eyler brought a miscalculation of grant funding to the board’s attention, which was quickly reduced to a speech error. It was initially stated in the meeting that $27.7 million of project costs would be through grants; $24.9 million as a 40-year loan and $12.3 million as a 35-year loan, which came out to $64.9 million by Eyler’s calculations.
Rowe repeated the correct USDA Rural Development and State Revolving Funds, standing at $11.6 million and $2.7 million, making the project total closer to the initially quoted $51.5 million total.
The monthly interim rate during construction will be $66.50 per equivalent dwelling unit, going into effect Dec. 1. State statute requires the charged interim rate is to go toward debt service, operating and administrative costs.
Property owners will be the only recipients of the yearly booklet billing system. An online payment form is expected to become available in the future.
The board added anyone who has met exemptions but is having a grinder installed for future connection will be paying the debt service rate as well.
The full rate of $95.60 per single EDU can be expected to go into effect in roughly two years, following the completion of construction. The project is intended to take 690 days or less, as there is time added in case of weather variation.
The ordinance rates will be charged throughout the year based on maximum capacity, ensuring that the system is built with the capability to support that much usage.
There was no opposition of the rates or any of the financial plan regarding construction.
Preceding the public hearing, the board held its monthly meeting. During the meeting, the official date the monthly interim rate will go into effect and the allocation of funding were discussed. The board approved coupon books being mailed to customers in December.
The board will meet at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 19, at the North Webster Community Center to take official action on the rate ordinance.