Chesterton Tribune

Nearly 20 percent of Utility customers were past due in last billing period

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Exactly 1,048 or nearly 19 percent of the Chesterton Utility’s 5,630 customers received past-due notices in the last billing period.

Of those 1,048, 214 received shut-off notices.

And of those 214, 118 had their water shut off for failure to pay their bill.

Of those 118, 12 customers remain without water service.

So Utility Superintendent Steve Yagelski told the Town Council at its meeting Monday night.

Yagelski practically pleaded with customers to pay their bill before Indiana-American Water Company turns off the tap, because once it is off customers must pay, in addition to the outstanding balance, a $43 reconnection fee plus a penalty of 10 percent of the unpaid amount. All in cash.

If you received a past-due notice—if you receive a second past-due notice—but you simply don’t have the cash on hand, the Utility will be happy to make an arrangement, Yagelski said. “We always work with customers, whatever they can afford, but they must commit to the plan or they go back to shutoff.”

“Its tough economic times,” noted President Jim Ton, R-1st. “I urge people, if they can’t pay the bill, at least get in before shutoff and make a plan and stick to it.”

“People need to understand that their sewer bill isn’t just for sanitary,” Yagelski added. “It’s also for trash and MS4.”

The Hopkins Donation

In other business, members voted to use the donation of $2,500 made by Mark and Michelle Hopkins of Hopkins Ace Hardware to purchase three new six-foot benches for the Downtown.

The total cost of three benches, including delivery, will be $3,106, Street Commissioner John Schnadenberg said, and members agreed to an expenditure of CEDIT funds to cover the balance.

Two of the benches will be located west of the fountain in Thomas Centennial Park. The third will replace the old one in front of Main Street, where Broadway intersects with South Calumet Road. All three will match benches already on site in the Downtown, Schnadenberg said.

“We especially thank Mr. Hopkins for his offer,” Ton remarked.

Later in the meeting Member Emerson DeLaney, R-5th, thanked the department heads for taking the time to consider the best use of Hopkins’ donation. And, he said, “I would like to see other businesses or organizations step up to the plate and join in and help make our Downtown and our parks more enjoyable.”

Easement Granted

Members also voted 5-0 to grant a utility and drainage easement to Don Hurlburt on a strip of municipal property located in the park in the Westwood Manor subdivision.

Hurlburt owns property south of Westwood Manor and in the event of his developing that property wants the opportunity to connect to the town’s sanitary and stormwater systems.

At its meeting earlier this month, the Utility Service Board unanimously endorsed the granting of the easement.

Casino Revenues

Members voted 5-0 as well to establish a Riverboat Wagering Tax Revenue Sharing Fund into which the town’s annual share of the tax—usually around $60,000—will be deposited. Up to now that share has gone into the General Fund.

By consensus members agreed to earmark 50 percent of this year’s share for sidewalk projects, to be pursued later in 2008 or in 2009 should the Street Department be unable to find the time this fall.

The council may use its share of the Riverboat Wagering Tax “to carry out any governmental purpose” which it “deems appropriate,” according to the enabling resolution. Traditionally it has used half of its annual share for sidewalk projects.

CFD Ordinance

In addition, members voted 5-0 to approve on first reading an ordinance which amends current Town Code governing the sorts of emergency calls in which the Chesterton Fire Department may seek reimbursement from responsible parties, 5-0 to suspend the rules, then 5-0 to approve the ordinance on final reading.

Deputy Fire Chief Mike Orlich told the council that Indiana Code has recently been revised, fire departments may seek to recoup their costs for a broader range of services rendered on public highways, and that the proposed ordinance simply reflects the revisions of Indiana Code.

Orlich noted that fire departments may now bill for services related to certain kinds of vehicle fires and accidents, in addition to those related to hazardous materials incidents.



Posted 8/26/2008