Monday’s (February 4th) session of the Constantine Village Council brought an indication from Trustee Gary Mathers that he would have a recommendation how to handle a continuing problem with the depletion of the village sewer fund at the next council meeting. Mathers is chairman of the Sewer Ad Hoc Committee. One option he mentioned was raising citizens’ water bills a second time.
In a memorandum to the council, Mathers stated in March of 2012 the council increased the combined water-sewer bill to village customers by 40 percent, at the recommendation of his committee in response to a 55 percent sewer rate increase to pump sewage to Three Rivers’ Clean Water Plant (CWP). Following the CWP increase, the village was faced with an additional $30,000 monthly tab for its sewer bill, draining its sewer fund.
“The committee, with help from Fleis & Vandenbrink Engineering, has worked diligently to recently arrive at a rate more in line the village’s needs,” Mathers said.
“Even with the 40 percent increase to the citizens, we continue to lose money each month.”
Trustee Kathy Piper inquired if ongoing discussions between village attorney Scott Smith and CPW representatives would resolve the issue.
Village manager Mark Honeysett said the talks were only in the “fact finding stage” with one more meeting planned in March.
“We hope to get a better understanding how they arrive at their rates, which would certainly help, but any negotiating with Three Rivers has not begun yet,” Honeysett said.
He added that, while recent “cured-in-place” pipe lining by Pro Form had helped, it had not cut down the flow enough to make a significant difference.
“We’re still losing money every month from our sewer fund. The original 40 percent increase was intended only to staunch the flow of money,” he said.
The council voted unanimously to schedule a public hearing at 7:05 p.m. on Monday, February 18, during the next regularly scheduled council meeting for public comment.
In further council business, Honeysett, in a memorandum, stated only one bid had been received to replace the underdrains, install new media, and perform related services on the four water filters at the Constantine filter building. The bid from Peerless Midwest, Inc. of Mishawaka was for $50,000.
“The water fund will become pretty low, but not necessarily depleted,” he said. “It’s not in the budget, but it has to e done, to be in compliance with the DEQ.”
“Stainless steel drains will last indefinitely; that’s what the company told me,” he added.
The council voted unanimously to accept the bid.
Source: Story contributed by Angie Birdsall.