Chesterton Tribune



Ron Stone: Damon Run folks are going to 'get screwed', again

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Valparaiso City Utilities (VCU) may be projecting a net 37-percent savings in overall utility costs for the property owners of the Damon Run Conservancy District--once VCU acquires Damon Run’s infrastructure assets and assumes administrative responsibility for the system--but at least one Liberty Township resident has the sneaking suspicion that the Damon Run folks are going to get “screwed.”

Screwed all over again, that is.

As Ron Stone reminded the Chesterton Utility Service Board at its meeting Monday night, in 2013 the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission slashed by more than half the revenues which Damon Run expected to collect from Porter Regional Hospital, Liberty Intermediate School, and Sunset Hill Farm County Park, the so-called “benefited properties.”

The IURC’s ruling created an annual debt-service shortfall estimated at $819,814, which had to be made good by the Special Benefits Tax paid by Damon Run property owners.

And so it is that residents in Eagle Ridge and Timberland subdivisions pay around $300 per month for sanitary sewer and water service, an amount assessed to their mortgages.

“The people out there (in Damon Run) got screwed once,” Ron told the Service Board bluntly. “With Valpo coming in, they’re going to get screwed again. I don’t think it’s going to be a very good deal for the 455 people in Damon Run.”

Stone in particular expressed his befuddlement over why the Chesterton Utility appears to have been shut out of all discussions. “I’m perplexed,” he said, “over how Chesterton never got involved in offering service to Damon Run, seeing how you already serve Fox Chase Farms and Whispering Sands”--both located in unincorporated Liberty Township and served by a main running north along Meridian Road to C.R. 900N.

Other things niggling Stone: that Damon Run’s attorney, William Ferngren, is married to VCU Secretary Lori Ferngren; that a 10-mile sanitary sewer service radius only recently declared by Valparaiso impinges on a four-mile radius declared by Chesterton many years ago; and that--despite VCU’s statement that the deal with Damon Run has been in the works for some four years--VCU has never, until now, discussed the matter publicly at any open meeting.

“There are a lot of things that stink,” Stone told members. “I hope you’re as pissed off as I am. I think Valpo is trying to encroach into Liberty Township.”

After the meeting, Service Board President Larry Brandt told the Chesterton Tribune that Associate Town Attorney Chuck Parkinson has only just begun reviewing the VCU acquisition but that he expects the Service Board “to put together a reaction” in the near future.

It’s a highly complex issue, Brandt noted, and Parkinson needs some time “to ferret out the facts.” What options the Service Board might have--if any--are unclear at the moment.

Stone did urge the Service Board to make haste. “They’re going fast with this,” he said. “And the people have been getting screwed there for the longest time.”



Posted 10/22/2019







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