Chesterton Tribune



Delinquent utility customers facing water shut offs

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Chesterton Utility customers whose accounts are in arrears received in their last billing statement, mailed Sept. 17, an application for a flexible payment plan, to help them chip away at their outstanding balances over time.

The deadline for submitting the application: Oct. 2. The number of accounts in arrears as of Sept 21: 1,158, totaling $96,000. The number of customers who actually submitted an application for a payment plan: 40.

So Superintendent Dave Ryan reported to the Utility Service Board at its meeting Monday night.

“So out of all those late bills, only 40 signed up out of hundreds?” Member John Schnadenberg said. “Wow. That’s troubling.”

Ryan agreed that it is troubling. At least as troubling is the fact that these hundreds of customers now risk losing their water service. Because the “first line of recourse,” as Ryan told the Service Board, is assessing penalties, then pursuing water shut-offs. The next scheduled penalty assessment is Dec. 14, with shut-offs to follow the week after.

“Whoa, Merry Christmas,” remarked Member Scot McCord. “I’d hate to do that at Christmas time. We’re giving everybody an opportunity to reach out and do something. But to only have 40 people respond, well, that’s not good.”

Ryan noted that both Portage and Michigan City have indicated their intention to begin water shut-offs for delinquent customers in November, but that for his part he’s open to suggestions from the Service Board.

Members broached the possibility of waiting until the New Year to take action but made no decision on Monday. “We’ll wait for the numbers in November,” President Larry Brandt said. “Then we’ll have a better idea.”

Ryan told the Chesterton Tribune after the meeting that, though it’s true the deadline has come and gone for submitting an application for a payment plan, customers in arrears should still contact the Utility now and inquire about a payment plan. “Nothing’s guaranteed but we’ll certainly review it and see if they’re qualified,” he said.

Of the 40 applications received, 25 were for a 12-month payment plan; three for 10-month; one each for nine- and eight-month; six for six-month; and two each for four- and three-month.

Call the Utility Billing Office at 926-1572.

Declared Surplus

In other business, members voted unanimously to declare surplus a pair of Gardner Denver 20-horsepower rotary screw air compressors.

Ryan told the Service Board that the air compressors are 17 years old.

September in Review

In September, Chesterton used 49.07 percent of its 3,668,000 gallon per day (gpd) allotment of the wastewater treatment plant; Porter, 42.9 percent of its 851,000 gpd allotment; the Indian Boundary Conservancy District, 51.82 percent of its 81,000 gpd allotment; and the treatment plant as a whole, 47.98 percent of its capacity.

There were no overflows of wastewater last month into the Little Calumet River. Total rainfall recorded at the treatment plant in September: 2.03 inches.

Also in September, the Utility ran a surplus of $393,832.48 and in the year-to-date is running a surplus of $786,992.23.

Last Thought: Vote

McCord took a moment at the end of the meeting to urge people to vote. “I’m happy to see people getting out to vote,” he said. “I’ve always been a stickler for that. It’s not only an important vote in the presidential election but in our county and our community.”



Posted 10/21/2020




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