By Liz Shepherd
ETNA GREEN — Etna Green Council tabled further discussion on a possible rate increase for residents’ sewer bills during a Jan. 10 meeting.
Amber Nielsen with Baker Tilly analyzed the town’s sewer rates and revenues for 2022 and presented that data to council. Etna Green’s revenue from its wastewater utility has substantially decreased since Winona Powder Coating installed their own sewer treatment system.
Baker Tilly first noticed the revenue decrease during their semi-annual review of the town’s utility in June 2022. In 2021, the utility brought in about $255,000 of revenue to the town. For the entirety of 2022, excluding December, the utility did not hit $200,000 of revenue.
Nielsen said if the trends continue, the town’s excess of funds within the utility will be depleted within a year if no action is taken.
“That (shortfall) either has to be made up in spending cuts, reallocation or a rate increase,” said Nielsen.
Nielsen said there would be a 13.6% increase to the sewer rate if the town decided to go that route. For a 4,000-gallon household, this would be about an $8.55 increase, or an average bill of about $71.33 for a four-person household.
Council Member Jason Hanes suggested a 14% increase to help the town break even on its sewer utility. Council Member Susan Klinefelter requested the topic be tabled until the council’s February meeting, and the council approved tabling the matter until then.
The council also heard an update from Beth Johnson, business development representative for USI Consultants, about the town’s upcoming trail project. The proposed walking trail will be in the area of Heritage Park and SR 19.
Council intends to apply for a $500,000 biyearly grant through the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. The grant’s application deadline is in March. DNR’s grant requires a $100,000 match; the town plans to use its $200,000 pledge from the K21 Health Foundation toward the match.
Hanes said he’s meeting with Rich Haddad, K21 Health Foundation’s president and CEO, later this week to discuss the pledge and the trail project. Hanes, along with USI Consultants and Michiana Area Council of Governments representatives, also plan on meeting with DNR representatives soon to further discuss the trails grant.
The council also:
- Signed a letter of support for Kosciusko County Community Foundation’s Go Forward! grant application, a one-time grant of up to $20,000 the town intends to use toward its trails project if approved.
- Signed a resolution from the county’s redevelopment commission attorney regarding the town’s plan to establish a residential TIF district. The district was approved by the county’s Area Plan Commission on Jan. 4.
- Heard a request from Etna Township Fire Chief Kevin Smith for extending the department’s building due to lack of space. Council asked Smith to bring them estimates for the project’s cost.
- Heard from Town Attorney Nick Jacobs about a foreclosure currently happening on the property at 127 N. Walnut St. Jacobs said he noticed a mortgage company filed for foreclosure on the home in December.
Council’s next meeting is at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 14.