Chesterton Tribune

Chesterton approves new sewer pact with Porter

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By KEVIN NEVERS

The towns of Chesterton and Porter have apparently reached an understanding, ending months of acrimony, frustration, and threats of litigation.

At a special joint meeting Monday night, the Chesterton Utility Service Board voted 5-0 to endorse a new intermunicipal agreement which sets the terms of Porter’s purchase of additional capacity at the wastewater treatment plant. The Chesterton Town Council then voted 4-0 to approve that agreement.

The Porter Town Council is expected to vote on the agreement at its own meeting at 7:30 p.m. today.

Under that agreement, Porter would over the next five years increase the total amount of capacity reserved for it at the wastewater treatment plant by 380,000 gallons per day (gpd), from 513,000 gallons per day (gpd) to 893,000 gpd or by nearly 75 percent, at a total cost of $1,786,000 or $4.70 per gallon.

Porter would receive the first installment of 170,000 gpd immediately, after making a payment to the Utility of $799,000 due upon execution of the agreement. Then, beginning next year, It would receive five more annual installments of 42,000 gpd after making a payment of $197,400 due on or before Sept. 1 of each year.

Should Porter fail to make any of the scheduled payments, according to the agreement, the capacity available for purchase at the particular purchase date would no longer be available. At any time in the future, on the other hand, Porter would have the right to request additional capacity to be negotiated with the Utility unless the Utility determines, “in its sole discretion, that it does not have sufficient capacity available over and beyond projected future needs of Chesterton to sell to Porter.”

The new intermunicipal agreement—which supersedes the old one of 1984 and would expire on Feb. 20, 2026 but could be extended for an indeterminate number of 10-year periods thereafter—covers a range of other issues as well which have emerged over the last few years. In particular it includes a breach-of-capacity clause, under which Porter, should it exceed its capacity allotment for four consecutive days in any billing period, would pay a 25-percent initial surcharge penalty for all flow in excess of its capacity; and, should it exceed its capacity allotment for five or more days, would pay a 50-percent initial surcharge penalty. In the event of a further four-day violation in a single billing period, Porter would pay a 25-percent enhanced surcharge penalty on the total monthly rate for all effluent treated by the plant; and in the event of a further five-day violation, would pay a 50-percent enhanced surcharge penalty.

In the wake of the Porter Town Council’s threat last year to condemn the wastewater treatment plant—located on League Lane in the Town of Porter—the new municipal agreement also makes a few matters crystal clear:

•In its purchase and reservation of capacity, Porter would “in no way” be entitled “to any possessory, proprietary, or ownership rights in the plant or any other personal or real property” belonging to Chesterton. “Porter agrees that Chesterton owns the plant, the right to operate, maintain, and expand such facility, and shall have sole discretion as to the methods of operation.”

•Porter would agree to maintain the zoning classification of the 19.85 acres on which the plant is located so as to preserve “the ability of Chesterton to operate said facility.”

•Porter would agree not to use, during the lifetime of the agreement, “eminent domain or any other legal process” in an attempt to acquire the plant.

In addition, the new intermunicipal agreement would obligate Porter to exercise “due diligence” in reducing, if not eliminating, the amount of stormwater, ground seepage, and infiltration introduced in its sanitary sewer system for treatment by the plant. In practice, Porter would be required to complete within the next year a study of its system “with cameras and any additional investigation devices,” to prepare a written report within the next 15 months on the results of that study including a plan for corrective action, and in a “timely” fashion to implement and complete that plan. Porter would be required too to submit an annual infiltration and inflow report to the Service Board no later than Dec. 1 during the lifetime of the agreement.

Finally, the new intermunicipal agreement would obligate Porter to enact within 30 days a “mirror ordinance” of Chesterton Town Code, Chapter 25, Article III, Division I, which establishes the Utility’s sanitary sewer pre-treatment requirements as mandated by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM). And any future amendments to that portion of Chesterton Town Code would have to be similarly mirrored by Porter Town Code.

After the votes, Associate Town Attorney Chuck Parkinson took a moment to thank Chesterton’s negotiating team, Service Board President Larry Brandt, Service Board Member Jim Raffin, and Council President Sharon Darnell, D-4th. “This couldn’t have been possible without their efforts,” he said, then added that “both sides come out on top in this agreement.”

For his part Brandt extended his gratitude to Porter Town Council members Bill Sexton, R-1st, and Sandra Snider, R-5th, for their “extremely well-run professional negotiation.”

“Politics,” observed Council Member Jim Ton, R-1st, “is the art of compromise and both sides issued an attitude that made compromise possible.”

 

Posted 9/12/2006

 

 

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