Tuesday, February 28, 2006

27 February 2006 Dearborn County Plan Commission Meeting Notes

27 February 2006 Dearborn County Plan Commission Meeting Notes
All three TIF Districts Pass Plan Commission Scrutiny

Present: Mark Mitter, Chairman, Patrick deMaynadier, Jane Ohlmansiek, Tarry Feiss, Nick Held, Mike Hall, and Dennis Kraus, Jr.
Absent: Jeff Hughes and Robert Laws
Also Present: Arnie McGill, Attorney, and Mark McCormack, Enforcement Officer.
Margaret Minzner, GIS Coordinator, and the staff of the Planning office were also present as well as Bryan Messmore, County Administrator all seated at the side table.

Register Publications did not cover this meeting in person.
The room was full- primarily for the TIF district presentation under #2.

1. Nicole Daily and Mark Rosenberger of Bayer Becker presented another version of their waiver of sidewalks request for clients Rohe Development for Condos on Mt Pleasant in Logan Township across from the golf course.
This request was for sidewalks on one side only. The Board reviewed the request, determined that they were split as to whether this was a substantive change from previous requests, and decided to hear it. The board questioned parking areas and location of internal amenities, and safety and health concerns. Bayer Becker contended that their concept design didn’t include sidewalks and the land was rezoned with that design in mind. Board reminded them that concept designs are not detailed and that they still have to comply with the ordinances.
Ohlmansiek motioned and de Maynadier 2nded to DENY the waiver for sidewalks and TO REQUIRE them on both sides except for the building on the cul-de sac (one side only there) 6 AYES and 1 NAY (Kraus , Jr.)


2. Jim West (DCEDI), Richard Butler, Att’y for Redevelopment Commission, Mike Rozow (Chamber of Commerce), Mark Neff (Chamber Liaison for governmental affairs), Tom Gehring (DCEDI), and Tom Kent (DCEDI) were present to request the approval of the Redevelopment Commission’s resolution. The Plan Commission had to determine whether or not the 3 TIF districts proposed by the Redevelopment Commission were in accord with the county master plan.

Mark McCormack, Enforcement Officer, presented the staff report on each district. The report included the EXISTING Zoning and also the CURRENT LAND USE in each TIF district. PowerPoint presentation included pictures of these areas. He instructed them that they were to determine if it conforms to the master plan, to discuss any modifications with the redevelopment commission, and that the next step after this was the County Commissioners. THE REDEVELOPMENT COMMISSION WILL HAVE TO HAVE THEIR OWN PUBLIC HEARING AFTER THAT TO DECIDE IF THEY WILL PROCEED AS PROPOSED. West says this meeting will occur in lat March probably in this same Commissioner’s Meeting Room.

Jim West presented the Redevelopment Commission proposals, even though his “paid job” is as Director of the DCEDI (Dearborn County Economic Development Initiative), [NOTE: DCEDI is a public/ private partnership, funded by development interests and the local governments. Lawrenceburg pays the lion’s share of the public money at $100,000 per year. The county utilizes their $75,000 that they contribute through the Redevelopment and Chamber, and Greendale and Aurora are in or lesser amounts. These DCEDI meetings are not open to the public for view, even though more than half of the money invested is public money. Their attorney- Lisa Lehner- set up their agreements with the governments as CONTRACTS FOR SERVICES to take advantage of this legal loophole in the public process.]

West gave a brief overview of the issues of trying to compete with other communities and states for economic development and the need for a shovel ready site. He talked about TIF (Tax incremental financing) districts as a tool for economic development, where any property taxes generated in the district from new business or expansion of existing business can be captured to go back into the district for improvements in roads and sewers. Sometimes the revenues go to a bond issue to fund a debt. The bonds are sold on the public market through a bond council (Counsel?). Butler stated there were no plans for the redevelopment Commission to issue any bonds at this time. [NOTE: This is hard to believe- if they are to get a site shovel ready, it will take money up front. Where will that come form?]

The Plan commission peppered the Redevelopment presenters with questions- the answers are below:
In 1999 the original west Harrison TIF was approved. TO DATE THEY HAVE NOT CAPTURED ANY OF THE TIF REVENUE FROM THIS DISTRICT. [NOTE: This question kept getting skirted in the discussion. At the Redevelopment Commission meeting, however, it was known that the follow-up from Redevelopment Commission had NOT occurred and so the Auditor was not notified to capture the revenue. They intend to go back for it.]
Butler went on to say they were not asking the citizen to pay for the bonds. Greendale did bonds and the developer bought the bonds. He stated the TIF has no bearing o the current taxpayer or the current zoning. [NOTE: Though it will increase the pressure for rezoning and if successful it will increase the pressure to sell off lands not currently business use. It COULD ultimately result in eminent domain issues for the last holdouts when a large interest wants to buy into the now successful area. Note what happened in Norwood, OH with Rookwood Commons. After all, more tax revenue comes from business than form a farm or home. And some businesses generate more revenue than others. Small local businesses can lose out to large big- boxes and so on. A plan to protect the area surrounding these TIFs would be necessary. “Property rights” should also apply for the owners and not only the sellers of land. It’s not always about the money- sometimes it’s about family or community, or quality of life.]
Butler explained that a TIF is for 30 years, but that they don’t have to capture the taxes that long if not necessary. He stated that Vera Benning is on the Redevelopment Commission and that she wouldn’t let them capture the taxes any longer than they needed to. [NOTE: Audience laughed at this point.] He stated that the community benefits from increased water and sewer lines etc. [NOTE: Audience rumblings against this thought, probably due to sewer issues in St. Leon and surrounding area.]
Tax abatements come from Council and these are separate from the TIF incentives. West thought that the TIF was sufficient incentive and that they wouldn’t need abatements – besides abatements were facing court challenges.
West stated that the TIF benefits the entire county! Developers are spending their own money on this too. They are priming the pump. He noted that West Harrison needs sewers in theirs.
West Harrison particulars listed it as having 133 acres in B-1 and B-2 zones. Their current USES were Ag, R, Commercial, and Industrial

St. Leon particulars listed it as 350 acres in Kelso township AND ST. LEON limits. Current zones are Highway interchange and B-1, B-2 (which is allowed in H-1) Existing uses are Ag, R, Commercial, and Industrial. West noted that there are more factors needed here than in the other two. They have a fair amount of sewers, transportation is well covered, and suitable topography. West also noted that as a PLUS THEY HAVE MOTIVATED SELLERS! Some have said no, but this is not about the ownership of the property, but about POTENTIAL DEVELOPMENT. They have an additional two properties in St. Leon who wish to sell.

The Aurora TIF in Washington Township is currently zoned Ag, M-1, B-1, and B-2. Current uses are Ag, R, Commercial, Industrial, and Parks/Recreation.

Citizens speaking included: Rob Herth (sp?), Helen Kremer, Rose Ann Fuernstein, Earl Dawson, Kathy Scott, Cliff Eibeck, a representative of St. Leon, who didn’t identify himself, and myself (Chris Mueller).
Questions and concerns included:
1. How are you going to pay for the infrastructure, up front?
West talked about a tax impact study THAT HASN’T BEEN DONE YET!
2. Isn’t this putting the cart before the horse?
3. Where is the internal PLAN for these districts?
4. What about eminent domain?
Butler noted that the current board does not want to use eminent domain, but he CAN’T say that they’ll NEVER be taken by eminent domain.
5. If the taxes are the same for the businesses, why will they come here? What’s the advantage?
6. The taxes increase for everyone else, why not for these businesses? What about OTHER county businesses?
7. Where are the captured dollars from the W. Harrison original TIF from 1999?
Answer- they were not captured- NO EXPLANATION OFFERED.
8. What about homes in the middle of a TIF?
9. TIFs DO affect the community- especially if the sewer line runs by our house and we are forced to hook on, no matter what.
10. Who pays the bonds if the businesses fail?
If they don’t pay off, then it was a bad investment and the buyer of the bonds loses.
11. What about the rural area?
12. What about SR1 and buses and increased traffic up there?
13. What about the inadequate interchange with I-74? TIF dollars can fix this- they are allowed to spend them OUTSIDE the TIF on items that affect the TIF area, such as an interchange. (What about getting federal and INDOT approval for this?)
14. Don’t want to have to sell under duress. Sold part of the family land for UCB, but DO NOT want the rest of this land to be in the TIF. Have a lawyer- whom should she contact to get their property removed from this plan? Butler would meet with her later. (Mrs. Frey is part of Rosewood Family Trust)
15.Mrs. Frey also stated on the record that one of the redevelopment commission members had approached them to buy their land. [NOTE: She identified that member as John Maxwell to those of us sitting near here in the audience after she sat down.]
16. How many of the Plan Commission own or have interests in the TIF districts? Kraus has an uncle with a couple acres, Hall has done survey work for the Freys.
17. St. Leon has been a target for a business/industrial park in KZF 1991 study and in SDG 1997 study. The SDG study for the Redevelopment Commission clearly recommends getting the public input as being critical to the success of the plan. There were notification issues on these TIFs. Legally- the newspaper printed notice, but in reality, people whose properties were having lines drawn around them were not talked to.
West stated they talked to the large landowners. This was apparently not entirely true as depicted by the residents in St. Leon whose properties were included and who spoke at this meeting.
18. Zoning issues surrounding the schools needs to be addressed- particularly for manufacturing uses that might become safety issues for that population.
19. Buffers are not mentioned in the plans.
20. How are you going to pay for the improvements up front?

The board asked what percentage of the total commercial base do you think this will make up?
How do you figure in the growth of existing business?

Who was on the board of the Redevelopment Commission and what was their expertise?
John Rahe- retired dentist from Aurora
John Maxwell- Maxwell Construction
Grant Hughes- Facilities Construction Mgmt
Vera Benning- County Commissioner District 3
Mike Rozow- Chamber of Commerce
Jim West- DCEDI and N KY Development background
[NOTE: These individuals do not live in or next to these TIFs so it’s not in their backyard. Only Rozow and West were at this meeting.]

Jane Ohlmansiek wanted to know what would happen to Residentially zoned land in the TIF. If someone wants to put a sub’n in there- do we say yes? We actually can because it is still R zone.
Patrick deMaynadier wanted to narrow in on how this fits the comprehensive plan. He noted that he’s generally comfortable with most of this, but said that business is not flooding into the county. He wondered if setting up 3 simultaneously would harm the projects as it wouldn’t build a critical mass because you’d be scattering the businesses coming in. He asked if they had the expertise to decide this on the Redevelopment Commission. He stated that getting that strategy right is critical!
Without knowing the fiscal impact in the county- should we table this and look at St. Leon more closely?
West noted that the impact study would be done before the Redevelopment Commission’s public hearing. [NOTE: This really should have been completed prior to this meeting.]
Patrick deMaynadier asked about the pecuniary interest issues- he noted that with Maxwell there is an interest in the land and development in and around this TIF in St. Leon as evident by things they’ve heard at the plan commission meetings.
Butler said- no one currently has an interest in the land that he knows of…
De Maynadier continued- or they will not be performing any development activity within that district?

Mitter noted that people get on boards because they have interests- that’s why they do it.

Patrick de Maynadier stated that they get on boards to perform public service- and if they want to develop, they need to be off the board. They have a choice- do they want to serve- or develop?
Patrick deMaynadier noted that he didn’t see any great expertise on TIFs on this board. He didn’t hear about fiscal balance yet.
Butler talked about Maxwell spending a fortune down there on 275 area and it has to work or he’ll lose. He wasn’t sure what the redevelopment law said about pecuniary interest. [NOTE: If you are the lawyer for the board- you should know the enabling legislation and codes of conduct. Butler knows about Greendale’s Redevelopment as well. It might be a good idea for all the boards to look at this law and it’s intent.]
The board pushed further to get the strategy or fiscal balance issues answered.
Butler said- with commitments from development we will sell bonds to build the infrastructure. He noted that in Greendale the developer bought the bonds. [NOTE: That implies that the developer then gets the bonds paid back by the TIF money that is captured. So he fronts the money and the taxes pay him back over the 30-year (more or less) and the bonds are a tax-free investment.]
West noted that he worked in N KY in late 80’s and 90s when all the development happened- because they were product ready. Some choices are needed to compete with OH and KY. We have to fund it ourselves thru TIF. If the county had to do this – they would have to take it out of County General funds (taxes)

Board members felt they need for business was valid. Mike Hall had issues with notifications and was concerned when about half the acreage (Freys) wanted out. If this were a subdivision- they would have been notified.
Kraus, Jr. wanted to know if they were meeting with St. Leon Plan Commission. West said they did last summer and will meet with Watson (atty) and another member tomorrow. [NOTE: Not exactly a PUBLIC MEETING.]
Mitter noted that tax base is lopsided and TIF is a tool. Doesn’t see the downside of this. Thinks it complies with the comp plan.
Patrick deMaynadier noted in the law- it says the commissioners can pledge the general funds of the county to back up the bonds.
[NOTE: Finally- someone said it- the commissioners and council are quietly working to get a financial consultant and also to with insurance issues to see what the county’s assets are. One reason to do this is to see what assets can be used as collateral for debt that is being incurred. Jail expansion and these TIFs are two BIG areas needing this information. So the answer to the citizen’s question about bonds is YES- they will be issued and YES the taxpayers may be liable in the end for repayment should these plans not live up the expectations. Do the bondholders risk anything really? And they are tax-free. Both reasons might explain why a developer or business will purchase those bonds.]

West Harrison TIF approved unanimously.

St Leon TIF (Butler noted that the decision does NOT depend on whether or not someone was notified!!!)
Feiss wanted it on the other side of the highway and north.
Ohlmansiek wondered if they should table it till they meet with St. Leon as part of the TIF is in their town.
Hall wanted to hear from the Freys also.
The St Leon TIF was approved with one abstention form Hall- he did survey’s for the Freys.

Aurora TIF passed unanimously. It was noted that if Aurora casket expands the taxes captured goes to the TIF.

3. Proposed changes to the ordinances were passed out in draft form for members to review for March meeting.

Administrative:Mailing fees were approved to change from $4.64 to $4.70 at Cathy’s request.

Enforcement reports were passed out and questions answered regarding Steele’s golf course and Carter’s junkyard.

Messmore, Listerman, McCormack, and Fehrman met with INDOT, ME, Strand, and Aurora for their first advisory meeting on the US 50 Corridor Study. Letters will go to businesses to fill out survey of their needs and issues with US 50.
County Planning Website will have a link on the progress on this US 50 study.
Binder of info in the office is available to view also.

Mitter noted he met with OKI and the VRUC issues are “going to get interesting.”
He said Sammy Gutzwiller sent a letter to Commissioners concerning VRUC and the Plan Commission. Apparently she was not complimentary toward the PC.

Lisa Lehner is representing the opponents of a cell tower on Losekamp Rd. She had some issue with getting the tech data packet from the Plan Office as the data is prepared at the Consultant’s office. She was asking about invoking the freedom of information act. They did get her copies and produced a tabbed binder later at her request so that it was easier to review the information. [Note: There is a certain amount of irony in this story. I suppose it’s good for an attorney who has blocked free flow of information regarding the sewer board and DCEDI with technicalities and legal loopholes to see how frustrating it can be when you are on the other side of the issue.]

Meeting adjourned 11:15 PM

Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township

Thursday, February 23, 2006

New County Site for St. Leon

Residents in the northern portion of Dearborn County have a website dedicated to their specific issues. All 3 proposed TIF districts paperwork and resolutions are viewable in pdf files (using Adobe Acrobat.) These districts will have a public hearing at the Dearborn County Plan Commission meeting on Monday- Feb 27th at 7 PM in the County Adm Building (top floor) across from the library and behind the Courthouse.

The web address is: www.saintleon.org

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

21 February 2006 Dearborn County Commissioner Meeting Notes

21 February 2006 Dearborn County Commissioner Meeting Notes

Present: Benning, President, Fox, and Hughes.
Also Present: Pickens, Auditor, Ewbank, Attorney, and Messmore, Administrator

1. The GIS dept. was tabled again for Messmore to do some more research. Ewbank advised them that a separate GIS dept would require an ordinance to create the dept., but putting GIS under one of the other offices would be simpler and perhaps more advisable.

2. Todd Listerman- Transportation Director:
Advised the commissioners of the estimated costs for Woliung Road per their request from the last meeting. Total estimate is $180,000 with Dave Lykins contributing $30,000 of labor. ROW not much problem, as Lykins owns most of the land on both sides of the road.
Priority lists for paving graveled roads has not been done. Probably by the end of the summer- he’ll have the counter in place and a system for evaluating the roads including ADT counts.

Vogelsang Road will be researched to see if Ellsworth Harper wants to have the road all the way to the homestead as it was originally. County maintains .35 miles to 22561 Vogelsang Rd (Schmidt’s home) and recently added 400 ft of gravel to Harpers land. There is a gate blocking the last .29 miles of the old unmaintained road. (Records show it wasn’t maintained on that section for 10 years at least) This road historically went down to Cook Road in the old days per Fox. Listerman to talk to Harper and report back at next meeting.

Jay Droege was present in the audience but commissioners didn’t call him to the podium. They decided to let Todd Listerman meet with him to determine what road he wanted to have ditches repaired on. [Note: Clerical error listed it as Bailey- it was Grelle.]

Rick Fox wants guardrail to be place on the curve and hill on Yorkridge where some deaths have occurred in the past. Listerman has been getting used guardrail at ½ the cost. He’ll check into this to see if it is on the guardrail list.

3. Bryan Messmore- Administrator-
Carl Petty was reappointed to the Hospital Board

Commissioners signed the lobbyist agreement with Barnes and Thornburg for 2006 and INCREASE of $18,000 over last year’s fees for federal lobbying.

Roger Rullman and Trina Hessler (sp?) were appointed to the Aurora Library Board.

The RFQ for professional financial management services will be sent out. This is to see where the county is with respect to potential borrowing options. So far they are only seeking Qualifications of the service.

4. Bob Ewbank gave them an update on the Building Ordinance, which incorporates the state laws in effect since 2003. It will be checked by the Building Safety Commissioner of IN and then published before it is in effect. This will give interested parties a chance to review the materials.

The Hospital wants to issue some tax-free bonds which will require resurrecting the Economic Development Board of the County. Members are a commissioner, the mayor of Lawrenceburg, and a Council member they think.

5. Hughes is on vacation next week and got coverage for his other meetings except for the Plan Commission- by law the others cannot sub there.

6. Benning will be in Washington DC in March for an educational conference.
She reminded commissioners to complete their NEMS training as required and that the TIF districts will be heard at the Feb 27th meeting of the Plan Commission.

Meeting adjourned at 7 PM

Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township

Monday, February 20, 2006



Harvey James Tharp, age 61, of Dillsboro, died Thursday, February 16, 2006 at Dearborn County Hospital. He was employed as maintenance supervisor at Stegner Foods and was a long time Boy Scout Leader. He served in the US Air Force during Vietnam Conflict. Surviving, wife, Linda; two daughters, Denise Tharp, Tracy Tharp, one son, Harvey J. Tharp III; two step-daughters, Lisa Wolf, and Tonia Mulligan; three step grandchildren. Mass of Christian Burial will be Wednesday at 1:00 P.M. from St. Mary's Catholic Church in Aurora with Fr. Joe Robinson as Celebrant. Interment Oakdale Cemetery in Dillsboro with full military rites provided by American Legion Post 292 in Dillsboro. Visitation Tuesday 5-9 P.M. at Ulrich-Filter Funeral Home in Dillsboro. Memorials: American Heart Association.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Secrecy in Dearborn County

Secrecy in Dearborn County
Submitted by Alan Stanley Freemond, Sr.

There is a secret society in Dearborn County, supported by taxpayers’ money, as we will see. The meetings are closed; the time of the meetings is secret - even to Register Publications, which donated $1200 to the organization.

One wonders if something is being hidden. Taxpayers’ money of about $185,000 has been donated by Lawrenceburg, Aurora, and Dearborn County itself. Private donations have been made.

Private donations to a non-profit organization such as this one can be tax deductible for the donor. For someone interested in economic development for his business this makes it a business expense - again a deduction. The money that the donor saves in Federal and State income tax by making such a donation becomes the liability of the rest of the taxpayers since the State and Federal Governments have definite tax revenue demands that someone must pay. All of the above is absolutely legal. The question is in such a small county is there not a moral obligation on the part of the leaders to publish the dates of their meeting and open these meetings to the public. After all, regardless of the legal technicalities that do not require this to be done, what information is being withheld from the very people who are paying the organization’s expenses? The old chestnut of those demanding secrecy in regard to their “delicate business dealings” using taxpayer money doesn’t wash here, despite its apparent legality.

In a county with as small a population as Dearborn County’s is, the consequences for an individual taxpayer can be very expensive. However it is a secret organization that is proposing this.

It seems that names of the membership of DCEDI are secret. We have no say about the expenditures made by this organization nor the bonds issued for them by officials of our county that may adversely affect the taxpayers of our county. From what are these movers and shakers of Dearborn county hiding?

Again from whom are they hiding - a Dearborn Countian who gets up at 5:00AM to hang drywall in Cincinnati, a man who get us at 5:00 AM to drive a semi half way across the United States. Welcome to looking through opaque lenses into the Dearborn County Economic Development Initiative, known as DCEDI and the various boards and commissions who are clandestinely planning to ride to riches on the backs of the unsuspecting Dearborn Countians. This organization plans to develop industry in Dearborn County and hopefully increase the tax revenue of the county.

We have learned that the members of the Dearborn County Regional Sewer Board do not have to file a conflict of interest form. It is so easy to do. Why don’t these people show that their exposure - if any - to a conflict of interest is non-existent? Or is it non-existent? From whom are they hiding? Are any of those board members also members of the secretive Dearborn County Economic Development Initiative?

Why do we need all of this increased revenue? The answer is simple. Over the past 15 to 20 years there has been for all purposes a zeal for uncontrolled housing development. This intense zeal for further housing development was demonstrated recently at a county Planning Commission meeting during which a well-educated, prosperous County Commissioner, in his enthusiasm for development, momentarily suffered a memory lapse. He forgot that, according to statute, one cannot subdivide a little over 7 acres of agricultural land into two housing lots for residential use only. He wished to do so.

For schooling alone, not including paying the interest and paying off the school bonds issued for new buildings and renovations of the older buildings for 10's of millions of dollars, it costs approximately $8500 to educate a child for one year in this county. Statistically a new home brings in about 2 children. That would be an educational cost of close to $17,000 a year per family, hence the forced need of industrial development. Yes, the state pays a large portion of educational cost but this state is not in a financial condition to pay increasingly larger sums for education and we pay state income taxes also to support the schools.

Thus a land speculator, the house builder, and the house salesman make large sums of money by developing subdivisions while the neighboring people are deprived of some of their privacy, some of their cherished lack of noise, low crime rate and less environmental pollution than the larger cities. Essentially they are deprived of their elbow- room, and peace. In addition property taxes go up. The old canard that if one follows these plans property taxes will not go up is poppycock.

An example of arrogance on the part of the county, in relation to housing development, is the ridiculous attempt by the county to abrogate the first amendment rights of a widow lady. She had placed a sign in her own field protesting a planned subdivision that she and her neighbors had reason to believe would destroy the nature of their rural/agricultural environment and perhaps be a health danger because of the development’s sewage.

The county ordered her to remove the sign. Her lawyer disagreed. The lady prevailed. The county had to hire a well- known Indianapolis law firm to argue their losing side. That firm was or will be paid by Dearborn county taxpayers. That is an expensive law firm.

In a recent interview with the Dearborn County Register the hired man of DCEDI recently remarked that developers for industrial sites want sewers. Well, we didn’t need sewers in the agricultural/rural areas and we didn’t need the Dearborn County Economic Development Initiative (DCEDI), until we became overloaded with housing developments, where houses are packed so closely together that a septic system is not feasible. The massive influx of people fleeing the high taxes of crime ridden, deteriorating Cincinnati required taxes from industry to overcome the deficit created by each of these new houses in the subdivisions. Each house requires more in dollars worth of county services than it pays in taxes to the county and the state.

Now neighbors of mine are being forced by court proceedings to destroy their perfectly functioning septic systems that had cost them thousands of dollars. By court order they will be forced to hook up to the St. Leon Sewer System. The cost? A minimum of $4000 per hookup. $4000 represents a little more than 10% of the average Dearborn Countian’s annual income before any taxes are taken out of it. To the affluent, and politically well connected of the DCEDI, this is an insignificant sum. To most of this county it is not an insignificant sum. The court forced sewer hookups are a “tax” on the people to accommodate housing developments.

Beyond the hookup fee of $4000 there are further large costs, some greater than the mandated $4000 connection to the sewer system. There is an increased use of electricity. It is known that an individual’s water bill increases when on a sewage system. Then there is the maintenance of the grinder. If it becomes stopped up or stops functioning it is the responsibility of the individual whose grinder it is to repair it. Can’t you imagine on a cold snowing day an invalided Dearborn Countian having to go out to repair the grinder for the sewage system onto which he didn’t want to be hooked up in the first place?

No one has mentioned the considerable cost of the excavation on one’s property to connect to the sewer system. No one speaks of the cost of the grinder that each must purchase by the court ordered connection to the St. Leon Sewer system.

Certainly the president of the DCEDI, who works at a bank, would loan these folks the money needed to conform with the court ordered connection to the sewer system. It would still be all that money plus interest.

Good people in the northern Townships have become angry about the court enforced sewer hookups. At a recent sewer board meeting in our friendly, calm St. Leon a harmless gentleman anxiously questioned why, by a court order, will he be forced to hookup to the sewer system at a cost of $4000 plus his own expenses to make the connection. This man was told to stop his questions or (as the policeman threatened him) “or you’re out of here!”

A policeman was ordered along with a sheriff deputy to be present at a meeting in St. Leon? Really! It was more appropriate for a Cincinnati Over-the-Rhine neighborhood meeting.

All of this is to aid the wealthy, politically well-connected professionals, industrial tycoons, merchant princes, and the Donald Trumps of Dearborn County. The threatened man described above has about as much political clout as a slug under a rock in Tanners Creek.

At a later date we’ll have to explore, more, the secret organization, DCEDI.

The hired hand of the organization has barely described to the newspaper vague terms how these Tax Initiated Financing districts as shown in aerial photographs in the December 22nd issue of the Dearborn County Register will be financed. The plan of these initiatives will on the surface appear to make money and tax revenues out of thin air. These plans may very well make for our shakers of the county money out of thin air. The chances are great that the ultimate burden of all this will be on the Dearborn County Taxpayer.

It is impossible to reverse all these years of development and the spoiling of our Elysian fields. We can bring these changes to a halt during which we can catch our breath.

Which of our townships will most closely resemble Colerain Township, Hamilton County, OH? Thereafter will we be a rival of Florence, KY and its Mall?

Does no one care? Are our elected county officials looking after the welfare of their long-standing electors and friends or whom?

Alan Stanley Freemond, Sr.
Jackson Township

Friday, February 17, 2006

THE REST OF THE STORY- submitted by Chuck Andres

THE REST OF THE STORY -St. Leon Sewer History

This is a very interesting story as far as it goes but let’s add a few more “FACTS” to what has happened so everyone knows the ‘entire’ story and not just snippets that inflame people. I don’t know what kind of expertise Mr. Hammonds has but let me tell you where I am coming from. I have been serving on the Indiana RWWTF (Rural Waste Water Task Force) for the past three years. This is a Task Force that was established by the Indiana Land Resources Council to study the on going waste water problems in the State and develop a strategy to alleviate potential health problems. We completed our study in the Fall of 2004 and submitted a white paper to the State Legislature outlining the concerns and a strategy to address them. The current administration disbanded the Land Resources Council but the RWWTF remains as an autonomous group of concerned parties that have a stake in correcting these State wide problems.

In the summer of 2005 I was invited to serve on the ISDH (Indiana State Department of Health) Onsite Wastewater Strategy Task Force. Since 85% of the septic systems in the State are failing or have failed the ISDH is concerned about the health and safety associated with this problem. Our charge was nearly identical to that of the RWWTF, many of the same people served on this Task Force, and that was to develop a strategy to address the septic problems in the State. We submitted a report to the ISDH in the Fall of 2005 outlining a strategy to begin addressing the problems. Should you want a copy of these reports I will attempt to get them for you.

Let’s talk about the St. Leon sewer issue. Mr. Hammond basically had the Individual cost for the initial connection correct except he did not go far enough and explain the ‘entire’ picture as to how that cost was established and why. The project was put together because there was a need to correct serious septic discharge problems in the Town and adjoining areas in the County. The least expensive method to do this was developed but because of lack of citizen cooperation it has become what it is. The connection package was arrived at by utilizing professional engineers and rate people. Some of the many pertinent factors used in arriving at the cost were:

1. Total number of customers to be served on the initial main line.
2. Reduced cost of equipment such as grinders, pipe, electrical, installation, etc. because of the large number to be connected.
3. Installation would be accomplished on a specified schedule and repayment of debt would commence on a timely basis.
4. Grant money was used to ‘buy down’ the user fees.
5. The Town needed to establish an Ordinance established along State Statute guidelines that would establish fees and MANDATORY connection to the system along those guidelines.
These factors among others were used to establish the connection fees and monthly user fees that would properly discharge the debt.

As time went on the Administration at that time discovered through due diligence that the incoming revenue was not meeting current expenses and covering the debt. It was discovered that the reason for this short fall was because there were in excess of 150 facilities not connected, and not paying fees, which should have been connected. Some of these people had paid their $400 connection fee and had grinder pumps installed but had not connected their premises to the tank and were not paying monthly user fees as was required. Mandatory letters were sent and the Town did get some to comply. Because this is a long process it was decided to do a rate study and subsequent adjustment of rates so as not default on notes due. Had the entire original customers connected to the system, a rate increase would not have been necessary at that time.

Some people use the argument that why should I disconnect my working septic tank? Let me ask you, what test have you used to establish your system is working? Do you use the following test?

1. My toilet flushes.
2. There is no standing sewage in by yard.
3. The Health Dept. hasn’t shut me down.
4. My neighbor hasn’t complained. (Perhaps his is failing so he won’t point a finger)
5. I haven’t gotten sick yet.
6. The worst one I heard, ‘no one has died’

There is NO inexpensive test to determine if a septic system is failing. There are few if any soils in this County that can support a conventional septic system. What if your septic tank is failing and the County Health Dept. says you need to repair or replace your system or have your house condemned? You will have to answer several questions:
1. Is my current holding tank large enough to meet current standards and requirements?
2. Will I have to replace the entire system?
3. Do I have an alternate spot to locate my drain field?
4. If I don’t have a site, what system if any can I install?
5. What will this new system cost? $5,000, $10,000, $15,000

The County Ordinance at one time mirrored the one of the Town of St. Leon. When it became necessary for them to support their own ordinance they backed down and changed it because they were not in a position to provide waste water collection. They continue to approve septic installations in areas where there are sewer collection lines available. You probably are aware that the County is attempting to establish a Regional Sewer District that would encompass the entire un-incorporated areas of the County. What will their ordinance look like when that is accomplished? LaGrange County, Indiana conducted a study on septic tank problems and I have a synopsis of that study titled “Septic Tanks Do Not Work – Period” I would be happy to send it to any one that requests it.

There is a way to work out the differences with the Town but calm heads need to prevail and a spirit of co-operation needs to exist rather one of confrontation.

Chuck Andres
St. Leon

16 February 2006 Dearborn County Regional Sewer Board Meeting Notes

16 February 2006 Dearborn County Regional Sewer Board Meeting Notes

Present: Chairman- Hankins, Dennerline, Enzweiler, Pruss, Holland, and Fehrman.
ABSENT: John Maxwell
Also Present: Doug Baer, Lisa Lehner,Att’y, Tom Quinn, Engineer, and Bryan Messmore, County Adm.

Lehner informed the board that she had done research and doesn’t think anyone is required to submit a conflict of interest form at this time. She passes out the forms for members to review. [NOTE: Unbelievable!]

The board rec’d a letter from Lampert for Greendale asking how they propose to handle Tom Kent’s sewer request along SR1. Dennerline noted that some people on Salt Fork had approached him stating they’d like to have sewers. It was noted that LMH was too far from there to help. Greendale’s large gravity main was about 1 mile away. NO DECISION.

Quinn reported that Stewart St and Cole Lane were not going anywhere due to IDEM issues in Aurora still. Bureaucracy with review process also a problem. Contact was Matthew Floriczk. Turner’s memo indicated they would get 33gal/min for Stewart and Cole and there is concern that this is not enough capacity for all the DCRSD wants to do up there. Quinn thinks that once sewers go up there- demand will increase and wants 500 gal/min. Meet with GRW next week and Quinn thinks they are under the impression that DCRSD wants to build a treatment plant there. They need either a new line or treatment plant in town. 6-inch not big enough- want 8-inch line.

Hankins noted the need to get to IDEM to give relief to Aurora until this is solved. Noted it’s been going on for years- why so urgent now?
Lehner spoke to another IDEM official who supported the idea of talking to enforcement division and showing Woolpert study was under way.
Enzweiler noted by working together we could save Aurora a lot of money.
NO one has seen the IDEM order for Aurora. [NOTE: These orders are available on request to IDEM; other citizens have obtained them. Why County Health or officials are out of the loop is unclear. Why not just ASK Aurora to see it? It is public record.]
Lehner is trying to get a stay on the order- is meeting with Hastings and Att’y Schmaltz in Aurora in a week.
Quinn noted that Cochran plant is 350 gal/min and should be 1100- severely undersized.
Hankins wondered if they could segregate Aurora into the flood and non-flood areas. Didn’t understand GRW plans.
Fehrman talked to Tierney of GRW and noted the communications were poor with Moores Hill and Dillsboro and Aurora. He thought the synergy would be better if all the towns were working together. He thought it seemed like Aurora was not involving DCRSD at all. [NOTE: It may be that the partners in the SDRSD were working together and DCRSD’s previous desire to be a NON-VOTING member was viewed a being not helpful to the district needs.]
Lehner said Hastings seemed like he did want to work with us.
The board needs to use Aurora’s 10-mil treatment plant.
Holland asked if we should by-pass Aurora and go straight to the SDRSD.
Hankins said- we have to get permission to go thru their territory.
Lehner thought that if we get IDEM off Aurora’s back, that Aurora might talk to us then. [NOTE: Rather than get IEM off their back by allowing temporary illegal discharges why not actually spend that effort and find dollars to build( expand) and FIX THE PROBLEM? It beats adding more sewage to a deficient treatment facility.]
Hankins said they were working on seeking funding thru the federal wastewater bill (via earmarks) by working through Sodrel’s office. Messmore said that both reps and senators would get identical copies of our request.

Hankins noted SDRSD was not receptive to the non-voting member status but was very supportive of DCRSD becoming a full paying voting member. They are meeting with others to see what the membership will cost. Estimates show it will be under $5million. Holland asked about SDRSD debt. Debt to be assumed as our share is low as the district is run very well per Hankins.

Messmore stated that the Woolpert update was that they were sticking to the plan.

Baer has not found a clerk yet so he is still the note taker for the district.

Hankins said that we need a comp sewer plan and that we need to cultivate our relationships with other entities in order to consolidate sewers.

Hankins asked the board if they’d seen the Ch 9 report on Sunday night noting it was a view of local gov’t at its most embarrassing point. I informed the board that there was another report on Ch 9 on Wed the 15th as well.

Meeting adjourned at 7:45 PM

Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township

Thursday, February 16, 2006

15 February 2006 County Plan Commission Working Meeting Notes

15 February 2006 County Plan Commission Working Meeting Notes

Discussion at this meeting was on several topics listed below. The consensus was to have Mark McCormack work up a draft as directed for the plan commission to review at February and March meetings for possible recommendations of changes to the zoning ordinance.

1.Commissioner Jeff Hughes brought up parent tract issues. Apparently his brother and others have experienced some issues with costs related to falling into a major subdivision because their original tract had been divided numerous times since 1989.

2.The language proposed might change this to being tracked by deed and limiting to a certain number of divisions every 5 years as other counties in Indiana similar to our have used. The surveyors will be part of the research with deeds on this option to decrease staff administration issues.

3.They also discussed estate planning issues and court ordered divisions.

4.Site distance issues were brought up as well with other options for determining them for single lots and driveway permits.

5.ROW issues for front yard setbacks were discussed. Trying to understand the language and its effect on a uniform building line.

6.Surveyors also were asking about the location of buildings and structures within 100 ft of the developments of surveyed lots. The concern was entering neighboring properties. It was mentioned that it might have more to do with towers and drainage and nuisance issues so that the PC could be aware of those before granting requests.

Lastly the commission asked Mark McCormack how the workload was going with Travis being gone. He stated he had to prioritize things- so they were getting finished but not as timely as he’d like.

The resume cut –off date is Feb 21st with 12-13 resumes. They will select the top 3-4 to interview shortly.

Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Commissioner Rick Fox's father passed away

Commissioner Rick Fox's father passed away Sunday February 12. The obituary information is below:
Leroy M Fox of Guilford, IN, died Sunday, February 12. Surviving are his wife, Violet Fox and two sons, Richard and wife, Cindie, of Guilford, Randy and wife, Laura, of Canton, Mich; five grandchildren, 25 great grandchildren, 35 step grandchildren. Friends will be received 5-8 P.M., Wednesday, February 15 at the at the Fitch-Denney. Services will be held at Fitch-Denney Thursday, February 16, 2006 at 11 A.M. Contributions may be made to the Tanner Valley Church or Miller-York Fire Dept.

Friday, February 10, 2006


September 7, 2005


Like the Eminent Domain case that hit the news several weeks ago, certain local municipalities are enforcing abusive state statutes that affect our property rights. Rural Indiana is under siege. Make no mistake about it, if you devote enough time to read this in its entirety you will be stunned to discover what is happening in your neighborhood.

Let me explain: A serious stink is brewing in the little Town of St. Leon that affects not only the residents of that town but also Dover, Logan, West Harrison and Batesville. If you are reading this and think that because you do not live here it doesn’t pertain to you, stick with me because you’re wrong.

Those of us who live in the rural areas and small towns in Indiana have seen changes everywhere recently. We’ve known it was coming for years, slow at first then spreading and accelerating. I’m talking about development. Most of us would like to see it happen slowly, at a moderate density, and located in natural growth areas. St. Leon’s sewer line is a key component for this growth. Big Development is influencing the zoning of property with promises of tax revenue for the county at little infrastructure cost. The seductive advances of developers, along with their complicit lawyers, has the county government approving more and faster growth, reckless and Hell bent, regardless of the good for the community.

Not that all growth is bad. A few new businesses and a few new neighbors can be convenient and welcomed additions to the community. Over the years the natural bucolic countryside where I live has witnessed curbside trash collection from Cincinnati, water from Bright, natural gas from Batesville, and telephone, cable TV, and DSL Internet from Sunman. Many of you have seen the same thing – welcomed utilities and services coming out from various towns in a flow of modest, responsible development.

However, an obnoxious demon has worked its way in with the new influx, and this utility has become a thrashing rogue elephant intent on having it’s own way without regard for normal people living normal lives. The St. Leon Waste Water Treatment Plant [SLWWTR] has been vested with immense power and independence by our State Legislators; yet the State has very limited technical and managerial supervision over this Utility. We’re talking sewage here, one of the aspects of life we’d rather not dwell on. But it is one of those things that needs efficient handling if we are to live in a healthy and clean environment. We are certainly not opposed to an efficient, competent treatment business. Cleanliness and healthy living is the main reason a lot of us choose to live in the country.

We also live here because we appreciate our independence. The utilities in neighboring towns know that they offer services many families benefit from and desire. They don’t mind if independent souls here and there keep drinking the water from their wells or flushing their toilets into their own septic systems. So long as the Health Department is satisfied with its sanitary performance, who is to complain?

Around here the town of St. Leon and its Town Council, headed by Doug Farrow and augmented by Andy Bischoff and Jerry Stenger, are the ones to complain. And they don’t stop there. Operating with sweeping powers granted by Indiana Statute 36-9-23-0 they have sent “90 Day Letters of Mandatory Connection” to hundreds of homeowners demanding them to hookup to their sewer system.

They are threatening swift legal action if their dictates are not followed. This is crazy but the Indiana State Department of Environmental Management [IDEM] limits its oversight to protecting the purity of the Whitewater River, and doesn’t protect the interest, the rights, or the welfare of the areas residents. As we’ll see, this isn’t the end of the discrepancies between power and responsibility in the operation of this obnoxious utility.

If you live within 10 miles of St Leon and you haven’t gotten one of these legal extortion letters yet, you’ll likely see one sometime in the next few years. If you ignore this injunction it’s at your own peril. You’ll be taken to court, where your tax dollars pay for the Town’s lawyer, John Watson from Sunman, to prosecute you. Indirectly we are paying the fees of the attorney who is attacking us. Then after you’ve paid your taxes you will need to pay for your own representation.

Fail to hook up and they’ll begin to bill you for monthly sewer fees anyway. Fail to pay and they’ll place your property under a tax lien. Which is what happened to Jim and Kim Metcalf; their case is currently in litigation with SLWWTP. Wait a little longer and the day of the Sheriff’s Sale will arrive. Your property could be sold at auction to pay for the sewer service you aren’t using. The Town of St Leon, represented by Mr. Watson, is planning to carry out the initial 30 cases on certain unlucky souls. Farrow, Bischoff and Stenger [known as the Town Council] announced this at the last monthly Sewer Board meeting. They directed Watson to start the process of sending out court notices.

Ok, maybe you’re a bit skeptical. You may say that there is a beneficial trade-off between not having to maintain our independent septic tanks, and the SLWWTP’s regular monthly sewer bill. If only it worked that way.

St. Leon operates a “forced pressure” system, not a “gravity” system. Instead of a few large pump stations maintained by the town to manage the hills and uneven terrain in our area, each homeowner has his own “grinder pump.” He has to buy it, maintain it, and replace it if it fails. And, if a poorly timed electrical outage occurs, this cuts all power to the system. Your toilets can’t flush and your drains won’t empty. Why should we abandon our working septic systems and gamble on the weather’s effects regarding power outages for reliable service?

The Town of St. Leon has resorted to predatory enforcement tactics in order to gain membership and then gouge us with sky-high tap in fees. They operate as a monopoly, and their fees are set at unrealistic levels. They have priced themselves out of the market!

Connection Fees are just the beginning of the expenses. Consider the installation, maintenance and monthly user charges. The homeowner has to buy the grinder pump, pay for the pipe and trenching, install a fiberglass crock, pay for electrical equipment, inspection fees, and fill in the existing septic cavity and seal it.

• The tap-in fee is $4,000.
• Grinder pumps average $2,500. [Some setbacks may require 2 or more pumps].
• Pipe & trenching at $8 per foot. [300’ = $2,400, 600’ = $4,800, 1,000’ = $8,000].
• Fiberglass crock between $200 and $400.
• Electrical expenses are uncertain depending where you live. $300-?
• Seal existing septic tank for $400 to $600.
• Cross under a road to reach the line, add another $750.

Our set back is 800’ so it would cost my family at least $16,000. Donna and Jeff Imfeld have a set back that would cost a minimum of $25,000. Then there will be a bi-monthly user bill, and like all other services it will consistently rise, forever.

Now let’s review the legal aspect some more. If the Town snakes one of their lines within 300 feet of the property line of a rural resident it is their policy to send the resident a “90-day” threat letter, forcing sewer hookup. It doesn’t matter If the house is set back 500 or a 1,000 feet -- the Sewer Board doesn’t care. Farrow states, “it’s the law, we have to force this.” He isn’t talking straight to us. They are the ones who wrote the language of the ordinance giving them the power to force the connection.

No one we’ve contacted at the County Court House or at the State level said they are demanding St. Leon to take this action. Watson, at the August 16th public sewer meeting, was asked whether or not the State was pressing St. Leon to make it legally mandatory for sewer hook-ups. After several swerves and dodges he finally admitted “No.”

The wisdom coming from Dearborn County Health Department and the County Commissioner is “that it’s in everyone’s best interest to leave the folks with good septic systems alone.”

So, the term “legal extortion letter” is not so inaccurate as it seems. The recipient of one of the letters has 90 days, under threat of punitive financial penalties, to pay thousands of dollars, to tap in to the sewer line. Then pay even larger amounts for equipment and labor to wind up with a “service” neither needed nor wanted, then face ongoing billings and maintenance responsibilities. Such a deal, sign up and subscribe or face a court appointment. It’s a stinky, lousy, obnoxious raw deal!

It didn’t start out this way. The Indiana state legislators granted State funding to facilitate the infrastructure to develop this region. 10 years ago their system was much needed and much more palatable. Originally the tap-in fee was only $400, and they paid for the grinder pump along with
[up to] 300 feet of free pipe. The installation and maintenance were provided at no cost with a lifetime warranty. Shouldn’t they be made to explain why the cost of the hook-up is 10 times the original fee?

Hookup was voluntary back then, especially for those outside the Town’s limits. Some were told they would never have to connect because the lines were not scheduled to come anywhere near their property. Now, we find that Big Development overtly influenced the St. Leon advisory Board to bring the lines into their subdivisions, which in turn brought them into our neighborhoods. Which is why we have received the threatening “90 Day” letters. Many times over again the St. Leon Board Members and their plant management has changed hands and the old pronouncements of “voluntary” became “mandatory.”

Mandatory at a cost of ten times the original tap in fee. We need to empathize that we would consider joining, but the Town has priced itself out of what the market can bare. We just can’t afford it. Ellenore Wells is 84 years old and lives on a fixed income of $647 per month. Where is she going to get this kind of money? Let’s not leave out Mr. Mutaugh over on Route 1, he’s 87; and Thelma Zimmer, she’s 86; Stanley Fuchs is the youngster at 80. This list goes on and on, and everyone on the list has working septic tanks in good condition.

The early adopters got off light, but as these lines spread new customers [victims] are facing the burden of propping up a failing enterprise. We are being asked to make up for the generosity of their earlier deals in order to accommodate development in this agricultural zoned area. They are not profitable, currently they are operating in the red, and if they are to provide a service to the community the State’s licensing regulator [IDEM] requires them to be solvent.

The State law gives the Town of St. Leon the power to build their sewer lines, and enforce their will, out to 10 miles beyond their borders in all directions. Ten miles, that’s 750 square miles of rural, semi rural and agricultural land. The demonizing tentacles of St. Leon’s officials reach far beyond their township alone. It encompasses hundreds of square miles inhabited by people who don’t live in St. Leon and therefore can’t vote in St. Leon.

The Town Council, and the ordinances it passes, controls the Sewer Board and the actions and policies of the Waste Water Treatment Plant. This town of 337 people, one stop sign, with only one town employee, holds sway over other individuals by enforcing their laws on us. We have no democratic influence on them or their business plan. We have no vote when it comes to elections. Non-residents of the Town can join the Sewer Board, but only by appointment from the Town Council, and only if you are hooked into the sewer line. Yeah right.

Our ancestors fought a whole revolution about “taxation without representation” and now the State of Indiana has granted authority, unaccompanied by regulatory oversight, to the Town of St. Leon to force its will upon people it doesn’t democratically represent. Citizens beware, this should strike a cord deep inside you – the ultimate insult - worse than the financial injury, is to suffer the arrogance of unaccountable power.

Ongoing development in this area will use up the remaining capacity of the sewage system. Why rob the plant of its dwindling capacity by forcing 130 families who don’t need it and can’t afford it. Keep that capacity for the new homes, condos and subdivisions planned for this area.

We have to lobby the State to rescind or limit their arbitrary grant of power to municipalities over rural residents in the matter of sewer development. Also, regulate a fair pricing structure to enable connection, as was the original deal [remember the $400 fee, free pump, 300 ft of free pipe, installation and free maintenance].

Let’s also try lobbying the Dearborn County officials, who do count on our votes, to use their influence with the inner workings of the Town of St. Leon and Doug Farrow, Andy Bischoff and Jerry Stenger. It is criminal for the Town Council to be so ruthless to the very people they are supposed to be representing. This is an outrageous and arrogant path that they are blazing, especially since they live here and operate small businesses here.

The most immediate solution would be to shame the Town Council out of using their predatory policy of paying for their infrastructure needs out of the pockets of citizens outside of their town limits.

It might also be beneficial to attend County meetings to see how they operate and what they have planned for the community. Town Council meets at 7:30 PM on the first Monday of every month, and the Sewer Board meets at 7:00 PM on the third Tuesday of each month, at the town’s Fire Station.

Thomas Patrick Hammond
September 7, 2005
Logan Township

County Plan Commission to Hear All 3 TIF Districts on Feb 27th

The Dearborn County Plan Commission will hear the public presentation of the County Redevelpment Commission's legal consultant (Rick Hall, of Barnes and Thornburg)of all three TIF districts (St. Leon, West Harrison, and Aurora Industrial Park) at their February 27th meeting. Meeting starts at 7PM in the County Administration Building. Agendas are posted on the County Planning site at www.dearborncounty.in.org/planning or by calling the office at 537-8821.
Plan Commission is to review the materials and indicate whether each district fits into the county master plan.
From this point the TIFs then go to the County Commissioners for their approval.
Signs may be posted near the properties being considered. Public notice is going to the local newspaper. It is not clear whether individual property owners will be notified. The applicant may not be REQUIRED BY LAW to do so by mail, though the Plan Commission normally does for their other applications.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Channel 9 to Cover St. Leon Sewer Hook-up Issues

Channel 9 to Cover St. Leon Sewer Hook-up Issues


submitted by Kathy Scott
8 Feb 2006

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

7 February 2006 Dearborn County Commissioner Meeting Notes

7 February 2006 Dearborn County Commissioner Meeting Notes

Present: Benning, President, Hughes, and Fox.
Also present: Pickens, Auditor, and Messmore, Administrator.
Ewbank, Attorney, on vacation- Jeff Dornette stood in for him.

Commissioner agendas are not being posted online until the day of the meeting. This agenda went online at 3:45 PM Tuesday. A citizen has to give a weeks notice to be on the agenda. Why can't agenda's be out early enough so that citizens can see if they need to come or not? It would seem that the commissioners need time to review their packet of materials for each item- how can that be done with a couple hours notice?

1. Ruth Ann Batta was granted permission to go to Council in May for funding from the Benevolent Account for the summer art program that runs for 2 weeks for approximately 49 kids.

2. Commissioners authorized Messmore to prioritize and assign old county vehicles as requested with county needs being addressed first.

3. Dave Lykins discussed paving Woliung Road a connector road in District 2. He owns nearly all the land on both sides of it and wanted to do all the widening and culvert work if the county would agree to pave it. Widening would include taking down fencerows. County estimates for asphalt wee $126,000. Listerman pointed out that the road priority list was not complete. It was thought by commissioners that Lykins offer to incur the excavation expense would factor into bumping it up the list somewhat. Listerman wants to use traffic counts (county is getting bids on counters as we presently only get 10 counts a year from SEI Regional Planning) and on current conditions rated on a scale of 10 points. The bridge on Woliung is already on the list to be redone. Currently Woliung is a 16 ft gravel road in fairly good condition. Commissioners expected numbers to be reviewed by next meeting. Woliung asked if he paved the road would the road then be his. Answer was that the county was not giving up a through street. [NOTE: Taxpayers need to know that roads are being prioritized appropriately. Any developer could say he’ll do the excavating work if the county will pave it for him. Generally, subdivision roads for example, are paved at 100% developer expense and then accepted by the county. Why is this any different?]

4. Todd Listerman- Transportation Dept. – got more paperwork signed for the easement ($2635 perpetual easement) for CMHC drainage area to SR 48 by the hospital.
He updated Commissioners on the funds that Council approved to be transferred from Whites Hill project to Stateline and Stephens Road improvement at the intersection of HVL. They have asked 15 companies to get proposals and about 11 will probably bid.
He and Mike Davis and Chuck wells met with Freightliner and the truck equipment will be ordered soon- all is in order.

5. Charlie Ashley- 911 coordinator – updated commissioners on progress on the layout at the law enforcement center and the move from the 911 tower on Pribble to their new spot in L-bg. They figure that after the first year expenses of the move are recouped they will save about $100,000 a year.

6. Bill Black was given permission to submit the loan request to Lawrenceburg for $468,000 for 20 years for the 800 MgHz radios with annual payments to begin in 2007 and not to exceed $30,000 per year. [NOTE: Finally-they finished this.]

7. Legislation to enact GIS as an IT dept was tabled until Ewbank returns.

8. DLZ reps Lorie Christie and Eric ??(couldn’t hear)- gave brief comments on designing office space in the EMA Bldg. Messmore brought them in with the thought of moving some adm. building offices to that building. It was clear that whatever was done would have to be a freestanding structure inside the building as the building is a warehouse. They are going to meet with depts. To see needs and storage issues. (This seemed to be somewhat disorganized)

9. Pickens presented a resolution that commissioners signed supporting Mitch Daniels Major Moves Campaign bringing in $3.85 billion. [NOTE- An Australian and Spanish company has combined to lease toll road in northern IN. The particulars can be seen on the Daniels website www.majormoves.in.gov for those interested.]
Contracts for EMS with Greendale, Lawrenceburg, and Sunman were signed.

10. Messmore- presented:
RFQ for a Comprehensive Financial and Program Management Service- this was completely unclear as to what Messmore is planning to do with this.

SKS Risk assessment – insurance needs review suggested by Ewbank will have it’s first report at the next meeting- Messmore warned that they will “need to go to council for additionals on this to keep up with that.”

DCRSD and Woolpert had a kick-off meeting to start the countywide sewer study. Letters were sent to sewer entities to prepare for introduce Woolpert.

FY 07 (Fiscal Year 2007) Federal requests questionnaire was being looked at using the transportation plan to “think about this from a major moves mentality on seeking grants.”

Agro-economic focus group met with Hastings (Aurora), Nick Held and the Economic Dev. Director of the Ag Dept. Not clear what they are pursuing.

Messmore called together a “workshop” with the school superintendents, tax assessor, treasurer etc. to discuss issues from the tax delays and consequences. He’s trying to establish a working relationship with them. [NOTE: My guess is that they want to get paid on time and have the interest they incurred covered by the county – period.]

TIF districts are going through the legal and public process- he thinks they will finalize these by late March. [NOTE: The Plan Commission may be hearing thsi at their Feb meeting after all- check with them if you are interested after Thursday ofthis week to see if they met the deadline to be considered.]

11. Ewbank- on vacation at the beach- Dornette was introduced at this point.

12. Jeff Hughes- Pickens said he’s trying to get a system in place to put their info online without using our server- for security issues. He’s getting a demo later in the week for a system similar to Hamilton County, OH.

Mike Hall was asked to speak regarding the new parking ordinance. He noted ROW varies in the county and that the county doesn’t own it out there in many cases, as opposed to subdivisions. Hughes. Listerman, and Hall will get with Ewbank to tweak the ordinance when he returns next week. They will report to commissioners in about 30 days.

13. Vera Benning- introduced Mr. Nusibeh of Midwest Data who gave a presentation on courthouse computer costs versus Adm. Bldg Computer costs. She noted that Midwest was shut down on their original presentation to get the Adm. Building contract as well as the courthouse. [NOTE: That interchange a few years ago was halted by Dan Batta when Midwest accused commissioners of something akin to racism.]
The judge in the courthouse won’t let anyone but Midwest service their computers. Fox wanted to know if they knew how many computers were in each locale. He would like to have one service doing it all. They have the option to rebid with notice to the other vendor. Benning noted there was an exit clause in the contract. Midwest Data in their packet indicates a difference of $28,000 Courthouse vs. $46,000 Adm Bldg. Comparing 2003-4 Courthouse with last 8 months of Adm Bldg. Messmore asked if there’d be a conflict with Ewbank as Midwest services their office. Dornette didn’t know who did the office- would have to look into that.

Meeting adjourned at 7:30 PM

Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township

Friday, February 03, 2006

2 February 2006 Dearborn County Regional Sewer District Meeting Notes

2 February 2006 Dearborn County Regional Sewer District Meeting Notes

Present: Mike Hankins, Chairman, Rodney Dennerline, Dave Enzweiler, Barry Pruss, Pat Holland, Brett Fehrman, and new member John Maxwell.
Also present: Lisa Lehner, Att’y, Tom Quinn, Engineer, and Doug Baer, Health Dept.
Absent: Bryan Messmore, County Adm and board liaison to Woolpert (consultants) for their countywide study.

The board sat at a side table, which, combined with the blower motor noise of the heating system made hearing difficult. At the end of the meeting I asked them to consider microphones or a solution to the problem so that the public could hear.

Election of officers was delayed per Lehner’s instructions that they wait until their board appointment was made. Officers elected were the same as last year. Hankins, Chair, Fehrman, Sec’y, and Pruss, Treasurer.

Minutes were approved with Lehner explaining the changes she made to Woolpert’s contract per board instructions.
No change in treasurer’s financials.

Moores Hill report from Joe Tierney of GRW noted the 150,000 gal/day 1960 package plant in Moores Hill had outlived its expected life. Estimates to build a new one were 2 million vs. pumping up the hill 2 miles and then gravity down SR 350 to Aurora and out to SDRSD at a cost of 5.7 million. After discussion it was noted that Woolpert’s study would take 6 months and Tierney wanted to know what they’d have at 6 months. Moores Hill is under IDEM rule to get the problems fixed. They wanted to proceed and DCRSD wants them to wait- thinking IDEM will be lenient knowing they are trying to get everything tied together. Moores Hill’s typical dry day usage is 76,000 gal/day. Extremes have hit as high as 500,000 gal /day after 20 in snowfall melts.
Matt Zerbe- the Moores Hill attorney noted that there has been a long time ban on sewers in the area. (i.e.- no development can occur till this is fixed) NO DECISION

Doug Anderson of Rollander Homes requested possible collaboration on getting sewers to his development on Soaphill Road thus allowing him to do townhomes and more dense development. He has been turned down numerous times on this 32-acre plot of mixed Ag/R zoned property. [NOTE: sewers were not the only issue- road access for higher density and safety issues were also a factor. Rollander was not willing to put major $$s into road access improvements either.]

The Aurora sewer line ends about 3 miles down SR148 and another mile to the development on Soaphill. Lawrenceburg lines are similarly placed along SR 48 stopping at Horizon Heights.
Baer noted problems up and down SR148 and about 100-150 homes that could hook on. Dennerline said- wait for Woolpert’s study.
Anderson wanted to know if financial assistance would speed things up. Board noted costs at $1-2 million. Enzweiler said $50/ft was reasonable estimate. Quinn aid maybe $18/ft. Others thought that was high- but then it was pointed out that this isn’t “virgin land” – they are going thru areas with infrastructure and barriers in place already. Had to be at least a 6”main and 10-12% slope max. [NOTE: At $50 per ft, cost is over $250,000 per mile and so the $1 mil is exceeded to get to Soaphill]

Old Business:

1. Last Friday was kickoff meeting (4 hours) with Woolpert and funding was released from Council at $200,000. Letters of intro for Woolpert and notification of the creation of the county wide district were sent to sewer providers in the area to get Woolpert’s info ready ahead of time for their visits. Lehner stated she put CONFIDENTIALITY provisions in the contract for the municipal providers and insurance and indemnity provisions. Woolpert should be done with the provider visits in 2 weeks.
By Aug 2006 the study should be in the board’s hands.

2. Quinn reported that Randy Turner had a certificate from the municipalities and they should be able to start in 30 days on Cole/Stewart project. There will be a pre-bid meeting advertised and then bidding. Concern that they are in heavier construction season and might not get enough bid interest. Questions remained unanswered as to rates and billing issues with Aurora on these two areas to be sewered. The DCRSD is no longer maintaining the lift stations (pumps) as previously planned and questions came up about what happens if Aurora annexes the areas that DCRSD is sewering? Lehner said she would have to review their service areas. [NOTE: There are a lot of loose ends and unanswered contingencies on this project.]

3. Quinn reported no progress on the Aurora interceptor issue. Aurora meets “periodically as needed.” Lehner and Baer are trying to get a copy of the IDEM letter to Aurora and their order to see what the deadlines are. Money is issue. Hankins reported that in 10 days Congress will consider the Clean water bill per Woolpert. They have a short window of OPPORTUNITY to get together earmarks requesting money to be attached to this bill. The money doesn’t have to be related???? They need one page and they need it fast. Fehrman noted they could mention the single line down Trester Hill to an old plant, violations on overflows, and failed systems. It was unclear WHO would take this on and WHO would follow up with the earmark requests.
[NOTE: Earmarks are essentially ways to “bring home the bacon” on pork projects. The Enquirer Editors noted that the new speaker of the house’s number 1 target should be the “despicable practice of earmarking.” Earmarking slips pork projects into bills- they don’t appear in the text of the bill, and they get no scrutiny and no debate, according to the Enquirer editors. Our local lobbyists support this practice apparently and local politicians seem willing to accept this “means to an end.” Taxpayers are the losers as this practice has used billions of dollars per year of OUR MONEY and no one accounts for the expenditures or their effectiveness. Cleaning up the corruption starts at home.]

4. Lehner reported that SDRSD meets next week in executive session to discuss accepting DCRSD as a non- voting member. Butler asked what has to happen. Lehner said they just have to sign a board agreement. (She has already prepared the language.) [NOTE: How does this help SDRSD and its “clients?” It seems that the county wants something for nothing, which isn’t fair to those who have invested money to get SDRSD to the stage it is in already. Why not join as an EQUAL partner?]

5. Amendments to by-laws and per-diems were already passed last meeting.

New Business:

Lehner presented her invoices for Oct, Nov, and Dec totaling what sounded like $11,628.40. Parts were for consolidation meetings, negotiations with SDRSD, and the SR1 account with her and Brett Fehrman negotiating with Tom Kent for development and sewer on SR 1 near Green Road. Enzweiler asked if this was to be paid out of the $200,000- at least the consolidation portion. Discussion was muffled at this point.

Hankins brought up the St. Leon TIF and that he reviewed a power point presentation just prior to tonight’s meeting on the study that DCRSD helped St. Leon fund for their expansion. West thought St. Leon had 2-3” lines- per Hankins they are really 6-8” lines on SR 1. They can add 550,000 gal per day to total capacity of 1.1 mil gal/day. Per Hankins, when the documents come in to DCRSD for review they can meet with West and the “political powers that be” about funding.

Lehner stated that she and Hankins met with VRUC’s existing board, who are to give her the by-laws etc. Parvin Price (VRUC att’y in INDY) informed Lehner that the INSURGENT GROUP has failed, the Dec 27 meeting wasn’t properly called and so it wasn’t valid, etc. Lehner put a call into Lampert at Greendale to schedule a meeting.

Butler, Greendale’s attorney, spoke up at this point, politely chastising the previous characterization of the HVL residents opposed to the current VRUC board as insurgents. He noted that there are 1800 residents in HVL and that there was a great grass roots effort to get them together with proxies. In October they had enough and sent WRITTEN NOTICE to VRUC to schedule a meeting within 30 days as required by their bylaws. Butler called Price’s stonewalling of the grass roots group “a cute game” where they scheduled the meeting for after the deadline of the proxies. He went further stating this was “fundamentally offensive to democratic ideals.”
Lehner noted that VRUC sent out proxies also- further confusing the residents. [NOTE: Reminds me of the high priced game HP (Hewlett Packard) got into with Compaq a couple years back. An entire forest was used in the flurry of proxy papers going to stockholders on that one]
Butler said that 5 people are spending the POA resident’s money on high priced lawyers to see that what the PEOPLE want ISN’T done!
Lehner said she wasn’t trying to back the VRUC board.
Butler said it was just a concern of his.
Fehrman asked when the board was up for re-election. Someone said it was June per the POA board.
[NOTE: The INSURGENTS have gotten the publicity out on their concerns. When legal means get stymied the next step is to remove officers at the ballot box. They have board members willing to serve and they have an organization. They need to get a timeline on candidate registration deadlines and requirements. Those deadlines are probably in the by-laws. There is more than one way to change a system- and this one doesn’t require a “high-priced” lawyer. The question is whether the VRUC is elected by the residents or appointed by the POA. If POA appoints- they may have to work with that board or even run for it to change the procedures.]

Lehner and Hankins met with Steidel- Lawrenceburg’s Manager to seek funding for Cole Lane/Stewart Street sewers. Favorable response. They have to make a formal request.

Hankins- now that we are county wide we can potentially uses this to benefit the people in the county. Tom Kent is willing to bear significant expense to bring a line further down SR1. Guilford has a severe problem. There are 101 houses from Green Road to Guilford. [NOTE: Where is he thinking Guildford is? The intersection with SR1 at Guilford back to Green doesn’t have 101 houses. He must be including more on the side roads or Yorkridge. We need to be very careful about development ON SR1 as opposed to feeding to it down existing roads. If we clog the only N-S artery on the east side of the county, we will create the same problems we have on US 50. This needs a plan!]


We need to get lines in the ground- but without our study or plan they may be too small, noted Enzweiler.
Lehner wanted to know if she should call Kent. The board said no- they would.

Lehner is preparing the SBOA annual report and the board let her sign it for them when it’s finished.

Quinn wants his new contract to be with Quinn Engineering LLC instead of just him.

Lehner brought up the state prescribed disclosure form (CONFLICT OF INTEREST FORM) that needs to be filled out- she prefers it to be done annually. They are to file it with the Clerk’s office. The forms are online at www.ai.org as well.

Maxwell recapped the Redevelopment meeting info on the TIF’s and related it to the St. Leon Sewer study. The nice thing is that in St. Leon the lines are there- they just need capacity. The cost of the increase is $147,000 annually. (It is unclear what this cost is for and who pays it.)
Enzweiler wanted to know why we are paying for this increase in capacity at St. Leon, when THEY make the money on the sewer usage.

[NOTE: This meeting left MANY questions unanswered. As an observer it seems like the board behaves like a whirling dervish constantly looking at different projects that are wanted and having no real financial means to solve any of them. Not only is a study needed- a plan and a strategy to accomplish their goals piece by piece is necessary. They can’t seem to decide where and who they want to help and in what priority. And anyone who tries to refocus them to their goals will be eliminated from that board. The original goals are not a high priority. High Ridge Estates was a means to an end - the end being a way to get grant money to start the district. When the grant didn’t come through as planned, High Ridge lost. The real issue lies with what Hankins constantly refers to as “the political powers that be.” And those political powers are apparently not necessarily the elected ones.]

Meeting adjourned at 9 PM

Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Lawrenceburg MDF 2006 Budget - $87,189,746

2006 Lawrenceburg Municipal Development Fund Final Budget as amended Jan 3, 2006
Total amount budgeted $87,189,746

Salary Council 10,000
City Manager 107,050 -city mgr salary for 2006
City Manager 70,020 -CM sec’y and construction mgr sec’y
Salary Mayor 11,000
Salary Clerk treasurer 15,000
Salary Pool 30,000 - up 22,000
Temp help 5,000
Longevity 1,700
Overtime 4,500
Human resource person 41,000
Sick Pay incentive 1,200
Social Security 17,000
Medicare 4,000
PERF 25,000
Unemployment 35,000
Assistant City Mgr 80,000 -Includes salary and benefits
Union pension 5,200
MDF Clothing allowance 950
LERU Ambulance 200,000 -new ambulance and unspecified equipment
Adult center 0 completed
Construction inspector 66,126 M Todd annual contract (Contract adjust?)
Office supplies 5,000 up 1,000 over last year
Computer equip/services 10,000 down from 100,000 last year
Fall Fest 350,000 same as last year
City Christmas party 18,000 same as last year
Copier maintenance 5,000 up 1,000
Eq and computer repair/maint 20,000 up 15,000
MDF Pool servicing 5,000 up 1,000
MDF pool supplies 35,000 same as last year
Law’bg bond bank 0 moved to Private business and public entity
LERU Support Fund 0 finished
Dearborn Cty radio system 0 purchased $1 mil base stations
Winterfest 50,000 same as last year
New police/fire EMS radios 380,000 portables and mobiles for Law’bg
Council private business loan 8,000,000 fund major business loans in Dearborn Cty
Council public entity loans 5,000,000 fund public entity loans in Dearborn Cty
Public 800 MgHz Radio loans2,000,000 new cty MgHz portable radios
Training funds 50,000 15,000 canine- rest for safety training
Remedial operation 200,000
Water dept. support 200,000
Riverfront garage operations 100,000 NRF operational funding for garage
Drug enforcement software 70,000 purchase Drug enforcement software
Electric bills 125,000 same as last year
Water bills 130,000 same as last year
Sewerage bills 120,000 same as last year
Services and consultants 250,000 up 50,000 capital assets/real estate review
GIS mapping 100,000 same as last year
Survey and misc 50,000 double from last year
Legal fees and services 150,000 down from 300,000 last year
Annexation 200,000 same as last year
Spring and fall cleanup 25,000 up 5,000
Travel and other expenses 20,000 up 2,000
Postage 50,000 up 42,000
Telephone and fax 40,000 same as last year
Business cards/stationary 1,000 same as last year
Health insurance 2,200,000 NRF – same as last year/ will +2005 leftover
Infrastructure master plan 25,000 same as last year
Council donations 40,000 down 60,000
New scholarship fund 100,000 same as last year
Old scholarship fund 400,000 up 100,000
Main St Association 185,000 up 10,000 to begin paying board members
MDF Housing Grants 25,000 same as last year
City/Argosy mowing 14,000 same as last year
Subscriptions/dues 2,000 same as last year
Gov’t support grant program 10,000,000 proposed to share with OTHER counties
New city hall improvements 0 completed
Franklin Cty revenue share 500,000 part of revenue sharing program
Install A/C on 3 trucks 0 complete
Upgrade at Hilltop station 25,000 requested by R Abner
Two 1 ton brush trucks 100,000 requested by R. Abner
Upgrade extraction equip 25,000 requested by R. Abner
Fire safety Ed’n trailer 60,000 requested by R. Abner
Fire dept training bldg 325,000 requested by R. Abner
Fire safety building 0 completed
Public warning siren replace 30,000 requested by R. Abner
Filing mgmt and furniture 0 completed
Riverfront Dev. Phase I 0 completed
Riverfront Dev. Phase II 4,000,000 approx 1 mil carried over from 2005
Alley projects 700,000 requested by Clark and Todd
Ludlow Hill Phase II 1,500,000 requested by Clark and Todd
Ludlow Hill 300,000 requested by Clark and Todd
Ivy Tech landslide 25,000 measurement funding
Phase VI streetscape 0 completed
Playground improvements 250,000 requested by Clark and Todd
Phase V streetscapes 0 completed
Florence Dr carryover/retain 240,000 requested by Clark and Todd
Argosy electric substation 4,200,000 requested by M Davis
Annex’n utility improvement 3,000,000 requested by M Davis
L-bg Aurora trail 1,500,000 to finish Phase I and II
US 50 utility mains 500,000 requested by M Davis
Water treatment plant 5,500,000 requested by M Davis
Electrical substation 300,000 requested by M Davis
Electrical distribution maint 200,000 requested by M Davis
SR 48 utilities relocation 200,000 requested by M Davis
Downtown underground 600,000 requested by M Davis
Remedial pump station 0 completed
Gateway project 75,000 to complete project
Gateway electronic sign 300,000 to purchase and erect new sign
Unfinished projects 250,000 up 60,000
Tate St. Park 525,000 improvements along Walnut St
Property acquisition 3,000,000 up 200,000
Used forklift truck 0 completed
Dearborn Cty Econ Initiative 100,000 same as last year
Dearborn cty Chamber 15,000 up 5,000
Dearborn YMCA Teen Ctr 0 complete
Fairground utility improve 25,000 carryover from 2005
Fairgrounds concession 0 moved to fairgrounds improvements
Agner Hall Renovation 100,000 left over from 2005
Fairgrounds Improvements 600,000 2 concession bldgs/new bleachers
West High St Improvement 400,000 to finish current project
Utility Meter improvements 150,000 requested by M Davis
Utility dept & MDF vehicles 280,000 see note below (no note?)
Fuel pump canopy 40,000 up 33,000
Env study for Rt 1 Bypass 1,000,000 eng studies and begin property acquisition
Study W bridge Tanners Cr 60,000 bid from ACE +8,000 extras
Tanners Cr bridge construct 7,000,000 eng and construction of new Tanners bridge
YMCA Bldg improvement 4,000,000 new gym and remodeled youth center
Youth Program operation 150,000 staff costs for youth center operation
CAI Bldg removal/improve 500,000 begin in 2006 complete as much as can
Modified flood control proj 0 abandoned
Ivy tech bond retirement 0 completed
Dearborn Cty Foundation 1,800,000 up 300,000 to cover issues as city requests
Fence Ext at city garage 15,000 from 2005
City Marketing program 75,000 same as last year
Small business grant program 100,000 same as last year
Stormwater improvements 275,000 same as last year
Parks Maintenance fund 2,000,000 NRF- includes 800,000 from 2005
US 50 restoration 0 completed
Ludlow Park Maint. Bldg 0 completed
New storage bldg city garage 150,000 up 50,000 from 2005
Walnut Tunnels renovate 600,000 down 400,000
Scudder park utilities 0 completed
Industrial Dr. improvement 250,000 from 2005
Nelson Dr. sewer improve 0 complete
Center St. Parking lot 45,000 for retainage and carryover
Walnut St. restoration 0 hold to maybe 2007
Bldg/monument maintenance 2,000,000 NRF- up 100,000 -began non revert this year
Ivy Tech college buildout 5,000,000 to be completed by Aug 2006
Library Improve Bond Pay 750,000 ongoing until 5 mil paid off