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Huntertown wins bout on sewers

Fort Wayne risks default over delays in sharing rate info

Huntertown scored a win in its ongoing fight with the city of Fort Wayne over who will get to treat the small town’s sewage.

According to a ruling issued May 8, the city cannot continue to drag its feet in providing information to Huntertown about its sewer rates. If it fails to provide the information by May 21, Allen Superior Court Judge Stanley Levine might find that Fort Wayne defaulted in the case and find in favor of the town, his ruling said.

The recent ruling is the latest in a lawsuit involving Fort Wayne’s wholesale wastewater treatment customers. Huntertown sued the city a year ago, asking a judge to review a 2013 ordinance governing what Fort Wayne charged sewage treatment customers.

Fort Wayne handles sewage for several area communities and entities – including Grabill, Arcola, Riverhaven and an industrial power plant. Wholesale customers such as the communities received a 53 percent discount on the retail rates the city charged to process sewage, according to court documents.

It had been providing Huntertown wastewater treatment as a wholesale customer until April 2013 – an agreement in place since Huntertown had to abandon a failing wastewater treatment plant in the mid-1980s.

But in April 2013, Huntertown terminated the agreement and Fort Wayne said it would charge the town the retail rate.

According to a release, town officials in June asked Fort Wayne to provide records about its rates.

“One has to wonder what motivates the city of Fort Wayne to openly defy a court order to produce documents and to risk taxpayer dollars on sanctions rather than simply producing documents which should be readily available to the public and which were due in the lawsuit last October,” Huntertown Town Council President Pat Freck said.

Attorney Tim Pape, who represents the city in this case, said Fort Wayne has been asked to provide records on rates dating to 1995.

“It’s a huge search and inquiry that takes time,” he said. “The city has a long business relationship with Huntertown and we would like to continue to maintain it.”

On May 5, Huntertown again applied for a permit with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, asking to construct a new wastewater treatment plant. A similar request was denied two years ago.

rgreen@jg.net

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