Chesterton Tribune

 
 

Brandt: 2012 one of Utility's most significant years in last two decades

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By KEVIN NEVERS

Chesterton Utility Service Board President Larry Brandt is calling 2012 the Utility’s “most significant year” in the last 20 years: a period which saw not only the expansion of the wastewater treatment plant but also the completion of the long-discussed South Calumet Road sanitary sewer separation and replacement project.

In fact, as Brandt noted at the Service Board’s meeting Monday night, four events in particular made 2012 a meaningful year.

Begin with the completion of the state mandated long term control plan (LTCP) to reduce sewage bypasses into the Little Calumet River during heavy rains. That plan has been in the works for the last five to seven years, Brandt said, and finally now, in 2012, the plan is done. The plan’s hinge pin: the construction of a 1.2-million gallon storage tank at the wastewater treatment plant, into which excess flows will be directed and stored until the plant has had a chance to catch up. That tank and associated improvements are expected to cost $14.9 million, which the Utility is hopeful a loan from the State Revolving Fund will finance. A 6-percent sewer rate hike will take effect on Jan. 1 to defray the cost of that project.

Which brought Brandt to the Utility’s next accomplishment this year: the completion of the biennial rate study by Ted Sommer of London Witte Group, the Utility’s contracted rate consultant. Sommer “did an outstanding job figuring out how we’re going to finance the LTCP without a large rate increase.”

The Utility’s third achievement: the Town of Chesterton’s partnership with Porter County in the Ind. 49 utility corridor project, in which the Porter County Council has ponied up more than $700,000 to pay for the upsizing of the sanitary sewer infrastructure to serve unincorporated Liberty Township. “It’s one of the most significant economic development moves we’ve ever done in this town,” Brandt said. “It will result in new business and jobs in that area.”

Finally, Brandt pointed to the purchase of a $300,000 centrifuge at the wastewater treatment plant, which he said will “pay a huge dividend” in reducing costs and increasing efficiency at the facility.

“2012 will turn out to be one of the most significant years in the last two decades,” Brandt concluded.

Indian Boundary

Conservancy District

In other business, members expressed irritation that the Utility’s agreement with the Indian Boundary Conservancy District (IBCD)—whose flow to the plant, during heavy rain events, often exceeds its 81,000 gallon per day (gpd) allotment—contains no language either to enforce the contractual allotment or to assess penalties when that allotment is exceeded.

Members accordingly voted 4-0 to instruct Associate Town Attorney Chuck Parkinson to contact the IBCD’s attorney about renegotiating the agreement, with a view specifically to addressing the twin issues of overages and penalties.

The Utility’s intermunicipal agreement with the Town of Porter does contain such language.

2013 Budget

and Salary Ordinance

By votes of 4-0 members agreed to forward the Utility’s 2013 budget and salary ordinance to the Town Council for approval.

That budget projects an 8.23-percent increase in total revenues, up from $3,542,500 this year to $3,834,055 in 2013; a modest 3.35-percent decrease in operating revenues, down from $2,335,968 this year to $2,257,719 in 2013; and a slight 1.3-percent uptick in total operating and maintenance expenses, up from $2,221,913 this year to $2,251,060 in 2013.

The budget also projects a surplus at the end of 2013 of $6,658.

The 2013 Salary Ordinance is essentially unchanged from 2012.

Write-offs

Members also voted 4-0 to write off $877.60 in uncollectable accounts and unclaimed deposits.

November in Review

In November, Chesterton used 34.54 percent of its 3,668,000 (gpd) allotment at the wastewater treatment plant; Porter, 42.3 percent of its 851,000 gpd allotment; the IBCD, 52.07 percent of its 81,000 gpd allotment; and the plant as a whole, 36.28 percent of its capacity.

November was easily the driest month of the year, with only 0.48 inches of precipitation recorded at the plant. There were no bypasses.

Financials for November were not available, as the Utility software system is currently being replaced.

 

 

Posted 12/20/2012