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Sewer district concerned about funding for plant

Sewer district concerned about funding for plant Sewer district concerned about funding for plant
Kaitlyn Clay, Staff Writer, [email protected]

In a public hearing during the Harrison County Regional Sewer District board meeting June 18 regarding the improvement project proposal for the Berkshire Wastewater Treatment Plant located east of New Salisbury, the board was able to go over various funding avenues to ensure the project happens.

Matt Robinson, of Heritage Engineering, went over the project, its time line and what absolutely has to be completed before any future development can occur in the area. All together it is a $3.5 million project that could be completed as early as October 2022 if actions begin soon.

While the engineering group has submitted the project proposal to Indiana state revolving funds, the sewer district’s president Tom Tucker noted that “the more pots that funds could come from the better,” in hopes to not drastically raise the rates of customers.

However, a resident of Harrison County, Richard Gettelfinger, expressed his concerns with a part of the project to the board.

Because a section of the piping tied to the wastewater treatment plant is the connection for the Berkshire Mobile Home Park and is owned by a separate company, SSK Communities, the regional sewer district must acquire that piping before moving forward with the project.

Gettelfinger was concerned that, because the district is trying to move quickly with the project, it wasn’t holding SSK responsible enough and it should be held more liable for the section of the improvement project that deals with the mobile home park.

SSK had previously told the district it was willing to give the mobile home system over to them for as low as $1. However, Gettelfinger said it shouldn’t be the district’s job to cover the payment for repairs in this area, when this was not a problem the district caused.

“I’m confused why we are assuming someone else’s problem,” Gettelfinger said. “I want what’s best for the community, but this is a lot of money to ask of the taxpayers. I’m for the expansion of the sewer plant; I just don’t think we should take someone else’s problem. I’m offended they are claiming they work for and serve low-income people but are doing this.”

The board agreed with Gettelfinger that the district should hold SSK more responsible for the cost of fixing its problem. However, the negotiations regarding that will ultimately tell what that number will be.

The district’s attorney, Chris Byrd, plans to begin negotiations soon with SSK to hopefully find a number both parties can agree on in terms of payment for the district to take over the system and move forward with expansion plans.

In other business at the meeting, Robinson informed the board that nine lateral connections have been made at the Kepley Fields development, located near the intersection of state roads 135 and 64 in New Salisbury, with 10 total lots underway. He expects customers could begin making payments to the district as early as July 1.

The board unanimously voted not to renew a membership with IRWA-INAWWA, a water and sewer association.

Tucker said he believes that the meetings and presentations with this organization are geared more toward water companies than sewer. Instead, the district will look into joining another organization that deals more with sewer companies.

The district’s next meeting is scheduled for Friday, July 16, at 8:30 a.m. at the government center in Corydon.