Chesterton Tribune



Utility board to investigate landlord’s concern over sewer security deposits

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Chesterton landlords: does this problem sound familiar?

A tenant has broken his lease or otherwise vacated the apartment you’ve rented to him. You’ve returned his security deposit, as required to do, within the statutory window. And then--maybe even a couple of months later--you receive the former tenant’s bill from the Utility, which of course includes not only an amount due for sanitary sewer service but also amounts due for trash collection and stormwater.

It’s probably a bill in the area of $225 to $250 and now it’s yours. You’re stuck with it.

That problem has frequently been Robert Booras’, who appeared before the Utility Service Board to ask for some kind of relief, in the form of an amendment to Town Code.

Associate Town Attorney Chuck Parkinson suggested that rather than amend code--which currently requires a deposit for sanitary service of a sum equivalent to three months worth of bills--the best solution might be a more timely mailing of those bills to landlords.

And there’s another thing, Parkinson said. The Utility has no jurisdiction over refuse and stormwater and it would appear that the town does not right now require security deposits for either of those services. The Town Council and the Stormwater Management Board would need to address the issue themselves.

In any case, the Service Board agreed that Booras’ concerns have merit and promised to review the problem. “We’ll see if there’s any way to speed up the process so landlords don’t get caught,” President Larry Brandt said.

And, he said to Booras, “Thank you for bringing this to our attention. I didn’t realize we were that out of date.”

Coping with Winter

In other business, Superintendent Terry Atherton reported that the winter has not only crushed spirits throughout Duneland but has taken its toll on the Utility.

Among other things, the new lift station for the Ind. 49 utility corridor was flooded when a water line broke in the main building. The facility had to be cleaned and the electrical gear dried, Atherton said.

Crews, too, have been performing a large number of emergency locates for Indiana-American Water Company (IAWC), which has been dealing with other main breaks all over town. While repairing one of them, an IAWC crew disrupted the power in the area of North Calumet Road and Taylor Street and rendered the Walroe lift station juiceless for three hours, Atherton said.

The frigid temps have been playing havoc as well with the Utility’s own mechanical gear. The trickler charges on two generators failed after being unable to keep up with the batteries’ charging demand, Atherton said, while a seal on a pump at the Barrington lift station also failed.

2013 in Review

Meanwhile, Atherton provided members with a brief summary of achievements and milestones from 2013:

* The cost of treating sewage was near a five-year low in 2013. Last year the Utility spent $248.29 to treat every million gallons of it (with a total of 735.5 million gallons of wastewater treated). That amount compares to $276.69 in 2012; $254.80 in 2011; $241.10 in 2010; and $259.55 in 2009.

* It cost $103,318 to operate and maintain the Utility’s 33 lift stations, at $3,131 per.

* Fully 38 percent of the town’s 23 miles of sewer were cleaned in 2013 and two and a half miles of pipe internally televised.

* Crews performed 952 locates of its system for other utilities, nearly double the previous year’s number.

* Staff worked a total of 44,702 man-hours without a single OSHA reportable injury.

* Once again the Utility’s lab has been recognized for excellence by the Indiana Water Environment Association.

* The Utility now serves a total of 5,609 premises. Its customer count grew by 20 in 2013. And it generated 34,697 bills.

January in Review

In January, Chesterton used 39.55 percent of its 3,668,000 gallon per day (gpd) allotment of the wastewater treatment plant; Porter, 52.45 percent of its 851,000 gpd allotment; the Indian Boundary Conservancy District, 64.29 percent of its 81,000 gpd allotment; and the plant as a whole, 42.37 percent of its capacity.

There were no bypasses last month.

Also in January, the Utility ran a surplus of $126,639.95.



Posted 2/21/2014