Huntertown is not considering other options and feels confident it will receive the state's go-ahead in a few weeks to build a $14.2 million wastewater treatment plant, a town official said Monday.
“We are expecting approval on the wastewater treatment plant in the next two weeks,” Andrew Conner, president of the Huntertown Utility Service Board, said. “We have not received a formal agreement proposal from Fort Wayne City Utilities and time is running out for us to give serious consideration to another option.”
Conner said the option that City Utilities presented to Huntertown community last month was not agreeable.
“There are some things that would have to change,” Conner said, but did not elaborate.
Fort Wayne continues to process Huntertown's sewage without a contract after Huntertown failed to renew its long-standing agreement last year, and negotiations between the two parties are said to be ongoing, although few meetings have taken place.
City Utilities recently offered the town $1 million to help build a new sewer infrastructure that would lower customers' bills by $120 a year, and allowed the town to provide for and control growth in its area, a concern that has been brought up repeatedly by Huntertown officials in the past.
In 2012, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management rejected Huntertown's original request to build a treatment plant because the discharge of treated water would pollute the Eel River. In May the town submitted a revised plan, which calls for discharging wastewater at another point along the Eel River.
That plan is in the final review stage, said Derek Frederickson, an engineering consultant for the town.
“The (public) comment segment of the review was four weeks ago, and we responded,” Frederickson said. “It's now in the final process.”
The town did receive state approval to build a $4 million equalization basin to store and pretreat wastewater, which is necessary whether the town stays with City Utilities or builds its own plant, according to Frederickson.
In other business:
The Allen County Drainage Board will hold a public hearing on Aug. 28 at Citizen's Square in Fort Wayne and hear a plan to redesign Ferguson Ditch.
The poor condition of the ditch has been blamed for many of Huntertown's problems with infiltration into the stormwater system, caused by excessive rain water or melting snow. The town is charged per gallon for sewage treatment and infiltration can drastically increase flow and costs.
“The reconstruction of the ditch proposed by the county will cost $452,625,” Fredrickson said.
Huntertown would be responsible for $395,959 and nearby property owners would be assessed for the remainder of costs, he said.
“How would the town pay that?” Councilman Jim Fortman asked. “Even though we would not be assessed until the spring of 2016, we would have to pay it in full, because the interest is significant,” he said.
Town attorney Dave Hawk said he would investigate the funding possibilities and present options at the next council meeting.
Hawk also recommended a town official attend the hearing and speak in favor of the project.
“I know that (Ferguson Ditch) has caused us some additional expense in treating wastewater,” Hawk said, “and the project would make the neighborhoods a lot nicer.”
Two years ago, the town was awarded a $40,000 federal grant for the study of infiltration, particularly in the downtown area along the main street from Willow Creek to Cedar Canyons Road – about 280 acres.
At that time, officials from Commonwealth Engineers Inc. said a major stormwater management and drainage improvement plan to correct the problem would cost more than $1 million.