Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Dearborn County Regional Sewer District Meeting 16 March 2004

DC Regional Sewer Board Meeting
16 March 2004 7PM
Register reporter Denise Freitag was present- watch the paper for her story in the next week or so .

Present: Mike Hankins Chairman (Left for about half the meeting to deliver a baby at the hospital and then returned to Chair meeting), Pat Hanlon (Chaired meeting during Hankins absence), Pat Holland, Rodney Dennerline, and Brett Fehrman. Lisa Lehner, Att’y and Doug Baer, Health Dept. Absent: Barry Pruss and Greg Vollmer.

No printed agenda prepared.

Waived the reading of the previous meting minutes- they were verbatim transcribed and were nearly 3 inches thick in a binder! It was decided to do abbreviated minutes with a tape for all future meetings. Minute taker was absent and there was no tape for this meeting. Hankins even went so far as to ask me to take their minutes- I declined and told them they needed an unbiased minute taker in THEIR employ and that I wouldn’t necessarily be at all their meetings.
Vera Benning, Special Advisor, took minutes.

Joe Tierney of GRW told them the engineering and environmental reports were completed. He gave a draft copy of 10 FAQ (frequently asked questions) and the draft responses to them. (Newspaper has a copy of these) Of the homes in the district 82% were 150 ft. or less to the ROW, 13% were 150-400 ft. and 5% were greater than 400 ft. Grinder pumps and pipe are at the district’s expense- it is prorated into the cost of the sewer bill. Homeowner’s costs will include: electric service and outside disconnect switch, abandoning the septic tank, annual electric costs ($15-24/yr), any pipe greater than150 ft., and $500-$1000 connection fee. The sewer district will maintain the grinder pump. Easements are required and they want them DONATED to save costs to the district. Whatever has to be paid for will be passed to the sewer users. If a pump station is installed on a person’s property - they WILL pay for that easement. If a septic system is 5 yrs old or less you can delay hook-up for up to 3 yrs, but then costs will increase. Monthly bills for all are estimated to be $55-65 per month. Electric setup for grinders $500-1500.

Tierney spent a large amount of time responding to the comment letters on the Dearborn County Public Forum site. In dissecting the numbers he refuted the costs and talked about why some of the solutions proposed are infeasible. He then discussed the hookup costs for each of the three sections of the district.
NOTE: For some reason the costs are LOWER on Cole Lane than on Stewart Lane or the main district area. The other two areas cost $7,700 and $7,800 respectively and Cole Lane is $4500! If grant money is being evenly distributed and the owner pays costs of extra pipeline, why is this number different?

At the end of the meeting Dennerline told me that his trailer park on Cole Lane is already on Aurora sewer, but that he's switching it to the County District lines and it'll COST him $4500. I asked why switch? He said so that he wouldn't have to maintain the lines. I reiterated that he needed to fill out a conflict of interest statement.

Dennerline stated that he hated for the public to be mislead by this engineer on the website who obviously hasn’t studied Indiana law… At his request, Doug Baer quoted IC 13-18-12-9 – the law on discharge permits. Also quoted were the costs of drip systems and recirculated media filters running $15-20,000 for residential, which is equal to the sewer costs.

Pat Hanlon played devil’s advocate and led the discussion regarding the alternatives for sewers such as treatment after the lagoon at High Ridge. Apparently the NPDES permit has been revoked from High Ridge’s private plant. The sewer district operates under an IDEM permit because they are incorporated. Lynne Newlon from IDEM joined in this discussion.

Also discussed was that the sewer board should have a maintenance program and see that all private and cluster systems are checked. Hanlon stated that he wants to investigate every potential to have a cost effective and well-engineered system.

GRW presented a draft letter to Randy Turner at Aurora to see if the district can go thru Aurora. They are also checking with Dillsboro as an option or the final option is building their own plant. A proposed site choice would be at Walston Mobile Home Park’s existing site, which is the low cost option per Joe Tierney of GRW.
NOTE: Does GRW get the contract to design and/or build the new plant?
Costs to consider are the number of miles of transport to the plants (pipe and pump stations) and the treatment cost that is quoted from Aurora and/or Dillsboro.

As to easements: of 107 questioned, 30 said yes, 47 said no, 5 didn’t know, and 19 didn’t answer.

Lynne Newlon talked about the volunteers who were going to go door to door to get the free easements so that would benefit all the users. She recommended that they get Connie Stevens (sp?) the mgr. of South Henry Regional Sewer District to come talk to them and give them some by-laws to help jump-start the board. They can’t get a DOC (Dept. of Commerce) loan until all the easements are in place. But she recommends getting in line for the loan anyway- because money is tighter this year. DOC got less than they’d hoped for.

Rural Development is the other funding source – pre applications are in Jan and July. Formal apps are in April and September.
Joe Tierney wants to pursue the Rural Dev. Application and get things done as quickly as possible. Board response was that they want to take the time to try to do it right.

A citizen in the audience- Dave ??? last name expressed a problem with the open easements that they were given. Two lawyers told him NOT to sign it - it gave away too many rights. Lisa Lehner was going to discuss it after the meeting with him - but the board wanted to do it in public, since it was an issue that many people had and the easements were a necessary step to the timeline. Since they were trying to get a general easement for everyone, surveys couldn’t be done- plus expensive. The thought was that they could put statements in as to the actual purpose and restrict the easement only to the owner’s specific service line. Lisa and Joe Tierney are going to “fix” the easement language.

Vera Benning, the special advisor, gave a report on her 6PM meeting with her special advisory board of 10 people that she asked to have accepted by the Sewer board. Last names were: Elliot, Hegge (official minute taker), Weatherford, Manford (Fehrman Realty), Fisher, Maxfield, Lawrence, Phister )sp?), Zeton )sp?) and Fehr. Their MISSION is to each take a road and get the necessary easements. They raised lots of concerns and questions and got some answers. Lisa Lehner stated that this adv. Board has to adhere to the Sunshine Law and publicize their meetings and make them open to the public.

Gene Rogers of Umbaugh and Assoc. is handling the Sewer finances. He commented that the Rural Dev Loan is better because you get 40 years to pay it back.

Vera and Doug Baer reported that L-bg Council was open to their request for money and advised them to seek out help with the Community Foundation and the Bond Bank as well. They are to come back with more info next meeting.

Doug Baer reported on the current financial situation of the board:
1. $125,000 loan from County Council of which about $50,000 will be “forgiven” is being used up – they need to be aware of this. (lawyers, consultants, meeting costs, transcription, new phone line, letterhead, etc. etc)
2. Lisa Lehner and Joe Tierney are paid up to 3/16.
3. Need to talk about staffing to hire for their district.
4. Purchase of liability and bond insurance from Seitz approved that night. The sewer board is an individual gov’t unit and can’t be covered under the health dept. or county’s umbrella.
Dennerline stated that the county was sued for not aggressively pursuing sewage problems and won, but now it’s in appellate court??????

Tom Kent and Bill Yelton are being considered for the excavation contracts per Dennerline. Kent was present.

Brett Fehrman and Pat Hanlon met with Scott Fortner and the President of Dillsboro Town Council to discuss cost estimates of hooking on to their service. Dillsboro plans to have a grant in June and bids by Aug to Sept on the expanded plant that will hold 500,000 gal flow design as opposed to the 170,000 they now have.
Base fee was $11.75 per month and with an estimated 4,000 gal user the cost would be $29.47 per month. Approx. 3 miles to their new pump station for county access.

Per Lisa Lehner: Be aware that Gene Rogers of Umbaugh also works for Dillsboro so he shouldn’t be privy to our negotiations with them probably.

Pat Hanlon read the petitions and thought the comments were good. Many were about affordability and having currently working systems. He offered to give a Sewage Treatment 101 talk at the board’s request. He will give a 10-minute one at the next meeting.

Lisa Lehner provided sample by-laws to help the board adopt some soon. Additionally, she advised that the state atty general is being sought for an opinion in addition to the State Board of Acc’ts opinion on the conflict of interest statements.
Note: I called and only 2 are turned in so far- Mike Hankins and Pat Hanlon per Gayle Pennington at the Clerk’s Office on 3/16.

It was decided that the board will meet at least twice a month on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays at 7PM. Next meeting April 6th.
Meeting adjourned at 10:15 PM

Christine Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township

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