By KEVIN NEVERS
With the 14-percent
sanitary sewer rate hike approved earlier this month by the Chesterton
Town Council, the Utility is projecting “commercial sales” in 2009—that
is, the revenues from that rate—to total $2,800,000, an increase of
$460,390 or 20 percent over the 2008 projected commercial sales of
According to the 2009
budget which Superintendent Steve Yagelski submitted to the Utility
Service Board at its meeting Monday night, that projected 20 percent bump
in commercial sales will allow the Utility to double the amounts put into
two key funds: the Capital Improvement Fund (CIF) and the Collection
Maintenance and Improvement Fund (CMIF), used to defray the expense of
big-ticket projects. CIF should increase from a projected $72,000 this
year to $144,000 next, CMIF from $138,000 to $270,000.
The Service Board
justified the 14-percent rate hike on the grounds that current revenues
were insufficient to fund major projects.
More details from the 2009
•Total revenues, including
commercial sales, tap-on fees, and other sources: $3,546,000, compared to
projected total revenues of $3,435,632 in 2008.
improvements and debt service (CIDS) : $1,065,825, compared to projected
total CIDS of $795,422 in 2008.
•Total revenues for
operating: $2,480,152, compared to total projected revenues for operating
of $2,640,210 in 2008.
•Total operation and
maintenance (OM) expenses: $2,478,115, compared to total projected OM of
$2,469,520 in 2008.
The Service Board voted
5-0 to approve the 2009 budget.
NIPSCO on the Surge
In other business,
Superintendent Steve Yagelski told members that a NIPSCO power quality
engineer has reached two conclusions about the surge which fried much of
the wastewater treatment plant’s equipment in October.
First, that the plant may
have received the surge due to the plant’s proximity to the pole struck by
a motorist on Woodlawn Ave. just west of Eighth Street.
Second, that “the Utility
appears to have all the appropriate protective measures in place with the
panel surge protectors we have and no further surge protection measures
should be required.”
Members, who had hoped
that NIPSCO might have suggestions about avoiding a surge in the future,
found that report not entirely satisfying.
The Utility has spent at
least $30,000 repairing and replacing equipment damaged by the surge.
Meanwhile, the Service
Board had some bad news for planning consultant Chris Lambert, who on
behalf of property owner Justin Brooks, asked the Service Board to provide
to Porter County zoning officials a letter of allocation indicating that
sufficient capacity exists at the wastewater treatment plant to serve a
small commercial building which Brooks wants to develop along C.R. 100E
immediately north of the Duneland School Corporation bus barn.
The bad news: there are no
sanitary sewers anywhere near the proposed project site. Yagelski told
Lambert that the nearest connection point is in Coffee Creek Center across
Ind. 49, that the Duneland School Corporation (DSC) has already
investigated the feasibility of boring beneath Ind. 49, and that the DSC
concluded the cost to be prohibitively expensive.
By votes of 5-0 the
Service Board also approved two expenditures, the first in the amount of
$12,100 for “transducer blanket-level readers” for each of the three final
clarifiers. Yagelski told members that this monitoring equipment would cut
labor costs significantly.
The second expenditure, in
the amount of $5,960, was for a new control panel on the Tanglewood II
lift station, which had to be retrofitted after being swamped in the
In addition, the Service
Board voted 5-0 to write-off a total of $17.39 in uncollectable accounts
and to retain a total of $843.95 in unclaimed customer guarantee deposits,
the largest of the latter one in the amount of $225.52 dating to 2001.
November in Review
In November Chesterton
used 52.8 percent of its 3,794,000 gallons per day (gpd) allotment at the
wastewater treatment plant; Porter, 54.26 percent of its 767,000 gpd
allotment; the Indian Boundary Conservancy District, 68.99 percent of its
81,000 gpd allotment; and the plant as a whole, 54.15 percent of its
capacity. No bypasses were recorded last month, with only 1.71 inches of
rain, the smallest amount of precipitation in any month so far this year.
In November the Utility ran a surplus of $169,258 and in the year-to-date
is running a surplus of $101,891.
Brandt took a moment at
the end of the meeting to express the hope that 2009 proves a better year
than 2008. “It was a tough year,” he said, “between floods and disasters.
I’m not sure we’ve ever had so bad a year.” In addition to the failure of
the force main beneath Porter Ave. and the 12 inches of rain in September,
there was also a “surge” in the cost of operating the wastewater treatment
plant. “We’re faced with significant challenges in the next few years. We
need to continue to maintain the integrity of the system but also stay in
line with our strategic plan.”
For their part Yagelski
and Town Engineer Mark O’Dell asked the Service Board to consider
scheduling a special meeting early in the New Year specifically to discuss
the prioritization of projects. “We’ve got 46 issues in the collection
system alone,” O’Dell said. Brandt thought such a meeting would be a good
idea. “We need to address issues of funding and priorities very soon,” he
Members Andy Michel, Scot
McCord, and Jim Raffin all wished residents a merry Christmas and safe
holidays, while Michel, like Brandt, indicated that he would be pleased
“with fewer catastrophes next year.”