Utilities (VCU) may be projecting a net 37-percent savings in overall
utility costs for the property owners of the Damon Run Conservancy
District--once VCU acquires Damon Run’s infrastructure assets and assumes
administrative responsibility for the system--but at least one Liberty
Township resident has the sneaking suspicion that the Damon Run folks are
going to get “screwed.”
Screwed all over
again, that is.
As Ron Stone
reminded the Chesterton Utility Service Board at its meeting Monday night,
in 2013 the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission slashed by more than half
the revenues which Damon Run expected to collect from Porter Regional
Hospital, Liberty Intermediate School, and Sunset Hill Farm County Park, the
so-called “benefited properties.”
The IURC’s ruling
created an annual debt-service shortfall estimated at $819,814, which had to
be made good by the Special Benefits Tax paid by Damon Run property owners.
And so it is that
residents in Eagle Ridge and Timberland subdivisions pay around $300 per
month for sanitary sewer and water service, an amount assessed to their
“The people out
there (in Damon Run) got screwed once,” Ron told the Service Board bluntly.
“With Valpo coming in, they’re going to get screwed again. I don’t think
it’s going to be a very good deal for the 455 people in Damon Run.”
Stone in particular
expressed his befuddlement over why the Chesterton Utility appears to have
been shut out of all discussions. “I’m perplexed,” he said, “over how
Chesterton never got involved in offering service to Damon Run, seeing how
you already serve Fox Chase Farms and Whispering Sands”--both located in
unincorporated Liberty Township and served by a main running north along
Meridian Road to C.R. 900N.
niggling Stone: that Damon Run’s attorney, William Ferngren, is married to
VCU Secretary Lori Ferngren; that a 10-mile sanitary sewer service radius
only recently declared by Valparaiso impinges on a four-mile radius declared
by Chesterton many years ago; and that--despite VCU’s statement that the
deal with Damon Run has been in the works for some four years--VCU has
never, until now, discussed the matter publicly at any open meeting.
“There are a lot of
things that stink,” Stone told members. “I hope you’re as pissed off as I
am. I think Valpo is trying to encroach into Liberty Township.”
After the meeting,
Service Board President Larry Brandt told the Chesterton Tribune that
Associate Town Attorney Chuck Parkinson has only just begun reviewing the
VCU acquisition but that he expects the Service Board “to put together a
reaction” in the near future.
It’s a highly
complex issue, Brandt noted, and Parkinson needs some time “to ferret out
the facts.” What options the Service Board might have--if any--are unclear
at the moment.
Stone did urge the
Service Board to make haste. “They’re going fast with this,” he said. “And
the people have been getting screwed there for the longest time.”