The bids for the
Fox Chase Farms/Whispering Sands sanitary sewer connection are still under
review, but the Chesterton Utility Service Board did have a bit of news
about the project at its meeting Monday night.
Brandt announced that the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) has
approved the Town of Chesterton’s petition to intervene in 1st American
Management Company’s emergency rate increase case, currently before the IURC.
1st American is the
court-appointed receiver of Fox Chase’s failing septic mound system, which
had been operated by MTA LLC, doing business as Centurion Utilities. Around
a year ago 1st American petitioned the IURC for the authority to raise sewer
rates for the subdivision’s residents by nearly 50 percent--from $65 to
$95--to cover the cost of “immediate infrastructure improvements” to the
In fact that
infrastructure won’t be so much improved as scrapped and replaced, by
brand-new infrastructure connecting Fox Chase--via the Ind. 49 utility
corridor lift station--to Chesterton’s sanitary sewer system. Piggybacking
on that new line will be the Whispering Sands Mobile Home Park, whose
package wastewater treatment plant is also failing.
The estimated cost
of the project: $2.1 million, which will be financed, through the State
Revolving Fund, with a 20-year 0-percent loan and a $750,000 grant. The cost
will be borne entirely by Fox Chase and Whispering Sands residents and any
other Liberty Township property owner who may, at some point in the future,
wish to be connected to the infrastructure.
As the IURC noted
in its decision granting the Town of Chesterton permission to intervene in
1st American’s rate case, such a petition may be filed by “any person or
entity alleging a substantial interest in the subject matter of the
As Brandt noted
after the meeting, for a project of such complexity, with so many moving
parts and involving so many interested parties, things have been moving
remarkably smoothly over the last year or so.
Superintendent Terry Atherton and Town Engineer Mark O’Dell continue to
review the four bids received for the project on Feb. 20.
* Gatlin Plumbing &
Heating Inc. of Griffith: $1,672,726.
Construction Company Inc. of Calumet City, Ill.: $1,705,495.
Construction Company Inc. of Niles, Mich.: $1,750,990.
* G.E. Marshall
Inc. of Valparaiso: $1,980,368.50.
In other business,
the Service Board voted 3-0 to authorize Atherton to hire a new employee for
the Billing Department, should he find a qualified one.
The position is
necessitated, Brandt said, by three recent developments: it turns out, for
one thing, that the new credit card payment option is more “time consuming”
than anyone had anticipated; for another, Indiana American Water Company (IAWC)
is now sending monthly water-usage reports to the Utility as IAWC prepares
to move from a bimonthly to a monthly billing; and, finally, “a lot of
man-hours are required to work on the list of customers who don’t pay.”
While on the
subject of credit-card payments, Atherton reported that already 224
customers have used that option to pay their sewer bill, quickly closing
in--that is--on the 300 needed to cover the cost of processing those
payments, “which it must do,” Brandt hastened to add, “because the Utility’s
other customers can’t subsidize that cost.”
February in Review
Chesterton used 35.9 percent of its 3,668,000 gallon per day (gpd) allotment
of the wastewater treatment plant; Porter, 44.95 percent of its 851,000 gpd
allotment; the Indian Boundary Conservancy District, 61.26 percent of its
81,000 gpd allotment; and that plant as a whole, 38.02 percent of its
There were no
bypasses of sewage into the Little Calumet River last month.
Also in February,
the Utility ran a deficit of $290,646 and in the year-to-date is running a
deficit of $105,855.