Even though it’s officially Spring, New Haven is still way too cold for the end of March.  I think we’re all ready for warm temps and things greening up.

Sewage Rate Increase coming soon.

As much as I hate to say it, the City of New Haven is going to have a significant increase in waste water sewage rates. I’ll try to explain why we have to raise the rates in this blog. If you have any additional questions or concerns, feel free to email me or attend the public hearing at the next City Council Meeting.  It will be held on April 8th, at 7:00 p.m. in the City of New Haven Administration Building.  If you live in the city of New Haven, you’ll be receiving a mailing explaining the increases in the next couple days. Sorry this story is so long, but it’s a complicated situation.

We rely on the City of Fort Wayne to supply us with drinking water and waste water treatment. The reason sewage rates have to increase is because Fort Wayne has passed along significant increases each of the past 5 years. The last time New Haven increased it’s rates was in 2007 (because of a large rate increase from Fort Wayne in 2006 and the fact that we had to pay for the bonds financing New Haven’s sewer separation project).  In 2007, we paid Fort Wayne $1,015,770 to process our waste water.  In 2013, we paid them $1,658,152. That’s an increase of $642,000 for basically the same services – AND the sewage fees charged by New Haven to residents were down by $55,437 over that same time period.  It’s not hard to see why we can’t continue to operate like this.

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) limits the amount of sewage discharged into the rivers. Failing to do this results in fines and limits on future development. That’s one of the reasons we completed the sanitary/storm sewer separation here in New Haven.  Fort Wayne is finally just starting their separation project – so they’re increasing their rates to pay for it. Unfortunately, we don’t see any end to their rate increases in the future.  We’ve done studies to see if building a sewage treatment plant in New Haven would be economically viable. So far, it’s not. We have made preliminary plans to build a overflow treatment plant in order to comply with IDEM’s mandates. That would only operate during heavy rain events, but it would eliminate any sewage releases into the river. We have some time before having to start that, but we had to submit a long term update plan for the city.

Any money left over after paying Fort Wayne, our operating expenses, and repairs/upgrades is put into a capitol construction/improvement fund. That fund went down almost $300,000 last year because of our increased costs from Fort Wayne.  We can’t keep doing that and still maintain and improve our system in New Haven – much less build any kind of treatment plant without passing a huge bond to pay for it.

It currently costs residents $5.63 per 1,000 gallons for sewage treatment.  Under the new plan, that will raise to $7.99 per 1,000 gallons.  It’s a large increase, but critical to keep up with Fort Wayne increases and build our capitol fund for future improvements.

You might ask “is there anything we can do to lower our costs?” Actually there is.  Our Utility department is rehabilitating parts of the system, but homeowners also have a responsibility.  There are still sump pumps and downspouts connected to the sanitary sewer system all over town sending clean water to Fort Wayne for processing. This is illegal, but enforcement/discovery is tough. You’ll see the Utility Department doing “smoke testing” this spring looking for issues.  If you think your sump pump or downspouts are incorrectly connected, please call the Utility Department at 260-748-7050. You won’t be in trouble if it’s wrong. They’ll just take a look and inform you what needs to be done to correct it. Another issue can be your sewer pipe running from residences out to the main line in the street.  Many older homes have clay pipes that have cracked or have roots growing into them. That causes ground water to enter the sanitary sewer system – which again – Fort Wayne charges us for. Still another issue is how the pipes are connected to the main lines. Sometimes the fittings are shot or improperly installed in the first place.  Basically there are many things that we’re working on. The sewer separation fixed a lot of issues, but we still have a long way to go.

Moeller Road Update

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about how Moeller Road was turning into an amusement ride. The road had raised everywhere other than across the road where the drains were. The great news is that it’s pretty smooth again.  I talked to Keith Schlegel (Engineering Department) at the Council meeting Tuesday night and he said they’re thinking because of our harsh winter, the ground froze deeper and caused some heaving where there was more stone. Now that it’s getting warmer, the road is getting flatter again.  They’ll still have to repair some cracks, but that’s nothing compared to what we thought we’d have to do.

New Addition

The new addition proposed for Seiler Road is still on hold.  Greg Adam brought some changes to the Planning Commission last week, but there are still issues.  It was tabled and he’ll have to submit changes to the plan at the next meeting on April 15th. The Plan Commission felt he needed to work out the drainage issues with the Pinestone Community Association and they still aren’t sold on changing the already approved plot plan for the Pinestone addition.  In the original plan, Haney Court extended past Carmondy Crossing. Mr. Adam wants to abandon the street stub at Haney Court and connect to Seiler Road. He wants a 14 lot addition that doesn’t connect to Pinestone.  We’ll have to wait and see what happens.

As always, I’d love to hear comments and suggestions. Let me know what you’re thinking and ask your friends to participate also.