Chesterton Tribune



Utility board votes to make the two Liberty schools customers

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The Liberty Intermediate and Elementary schools are now just one more vote away from becoming customers of the Chesterton Utility.

At its meeting Monday night, the Utility Service Board voted unanimously to approve a sanitary sewer user agreement under which the Utility would provide service to the two schools, located on C.R. 900N in unincorporated Liberty Township.

The agreement now goes to the Duneland School Board for its approval.

Under the terms of the agreement, DSC will install and maintain at its own cost a force main connecting to the Fox Chase subdivision, located west of Meridian Road and serviced by a lift station constructed a couple of years ago by the Utility off C.R. 900N just west of Ind. 49.

The Utility will waive all tap-on, inspection, and administrative fees associated with DSC’s tie-in to the Chesterton sanitary sewer system and will be billed the following: treatment rate per 1,000 gallons of $4.27; user charge per three-inch meter per month of $308; and a debt service charge per EDU of $42.61, to be reduced to $35.51 after 2021.

DSC, which had been a customer of the Damon Run Conservancy District, approached the Service Board late last year to request a tie-in, after the Duneland School Board formally terminated its relationship with Damon Run. That break followed Valparaiso City Utilities’ acquisition of the Damon Run infrastructure and its declaration of a 10-mile service territory outside of the city’s corporate limits.

The Chesterton Utility is challenging that territory declaration before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, on the ground that Valpo’s 10-mile service territory encroaches on Chesterton’s four-mile territory, declared by the Town Council by ordinance five years ago.

“Welcome, Duneland Schools,” Member Scott McCord said.

President Larry Brandt, for his part, thanked Superintendent Dave Ryan and Associate Town Attorney Chuck Parkinson for their “outstanding” work on the agreement.

Meanwhile, Ryan told the Service Board that staff is working on the dispute. “Time continues to be spent with lawyers and engineers on moving forward with the Valpo/DRCD territorial issue,” he said. “Our attorneys sent a settlement proposal offer to Valpo on Dec. 20. We have not yet heard a response back.”


In Review

In other business, Ryan told members that financials presented to the Service Board for December and 2019 are preliminary and may yet change somewhat.

As they stand, however, the Utility ran a deficit in December of $341,394.02 and in full-year 2019 a surplus of $965,934.42: that latter figure exceeds projection by $555,956.42 or more than 100 percent. By the same token, the Utility’s total operating expenses last year were $145,327.63 less than the $2,677,893 than originally projected.

“If I read this correctly, pending any major changes, we ended the year well in the positive,” Brandt noted.

“Absolutely,” Ryan replied. “We had a great year.”

In 2019 Chesterton used 58.61 percent of its 3,668,000 gallon per day (gpd) allotment of the wastewater treatment plant; Porter, 56.72 percent of its 851,000 gpd allotment; the Indian Boundary Conservancy District, 73.78 percent of its 81,000 gpd allotment; and the plant as a whole, 58.56 percent of its capacity.

The plant treated 980,567,000 gallons in 2019, for an average daily flow of 2,694,083 gallons: 13 percent more than in 2018. There was one bypass, in September, which saw 8.19 inches of rain, the most of any month. A total of 45.90 inches of rain fell in 2019, compared to 41.71 inches in 2018 and 41.33 inches in 2017.

Even with all the rain, even with the 13 percent increase in daily average usage, the wastewater plant is still only operating at 59 percent of its capacity, Brandt observed. “That’s amazing,” he said. “That’s absolutely amazing.”

2020 Budget

Members also voted unanimously to approve the 2020 budget as submitted by Ryan.

That budget projects total revenues of $4,655,504; debt service of $1,361,191; total operating revenue of $3,294,313; expenses of $2,741,997; and surplus of $552,316.

Both Brandt and Member Andy Michael praised Ryan for the clarity, detail, comprehensiveness, and rigor of the budget documents.

“In all the budgets we’ve gotten over the last 20-plus years, this is probably the more comprehensive and understandable one we’ve ever had,” Michael said.

Last Thought

McCord took a moment at the end of the meeting to express his gratitude to the Town Council for re-appointing both himself and Brandt to the Service Board.

“Thank you for the confidence,” McCord said. “Hopefully we can continue to do the job you expect of us.”


Posted 1/21/2020




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