The Indian Boundary Conservancy District (IBCD) was established by order of the Porter Circuit Court on October 30, 1986 for the purpose of implementing a solution for the pollution problems in the Little Calumet River Basin caused by extensive malfunctioning of private sewage disposal systems (septic systems). Porter County Health Department staff had met with residents of the area indicating that many homes needed extensive and expensive septic system repairs or would become vulnerable to condemnation.
An engineering study was commissioned which found that almost one-third of the residents in the area adjoining Indian Boundary Road in Westchester Township were experiencing malfunctioning of their septic systems. Septic system affluent was seeping to the surface and causing an immediate and present health hazard. Property values were declining and many homeowners reported the need to take “shorter showers” and do their laundry away from their homes. Some residents had already started pumping their septic tanks. The engineers recommended abandonment of the septic systems and installation of a sanitary sewer collection system which would be connected to the Chesterton wastewater treatment plant.
The initial members of the Governing Board of IBCD were appointed by the Porter County Board of Commissioners and convene their first meeting on January 5, 1987. Pursuant to the provisions of the Indiana Conservancy Act, IBCD presented the engineering study and recommendation to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and the Porter Circuit Court. On June 11, 1987 the Porter Circuit Court approved the District Plan and authorized IBCD to implement construction of the sanitary sewer collection system.
IBCD retained an engineer to prepare plans and specifications from which the construction project could be bid. That process culminated in January, 1989 when Woodruff and Sons were awarded a contract for construction of the sanitary sewer collection system which would serve approximately three hundred homes in Westchester Township east of Chesterton.
The project was funded through receipt of a US Environmental Protection Agency award of approximately One Million Dollars ($1,000,000.00) and an Indiana Department of Environmental Management grant of approximately Seven Hundred Thousand Dollars ($700,000.00). The remaining project costs were paid by IBCD through the issuance of debt in the amount of Eight Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollars ($850,000.00). IBCD issued bonds in December, 1991 to pay the local portion of the construction project.
The IBCD sanitary sewer collection system was designed to handle eighty-two thousand (82,000) gallons per day and consisted of the installation of four and six inch sewer lines with each home having a holding tank. Each homeowner was responsible for installation of the sewer line from the holding tank to the house. Solids settle out in the holding tank and IBCD pumps the holding tanks on a regular schedule. The liquid affluent travels through the collection system and is process at the Chesterton wastewater treatment plant.
The system became fully operational in January, 1992. IBCD generated revenue to pay off the bonds by imposing a real estate property tax based upon the assessed valuation of each customer’s property. Each home was initially assessed $19.60 per month for the operational costs and expenses associated with the collection system. The largest expense remains the treatment costs assessed by the Town of Chesterton.
Due entirely to treatment rate increases imposed by the Town of Chesterton, IBCD increased its monthly sewer billing to customers in 1992 ($21.10 per month) and 1996 ($23.00 per month). In 2004 Chesterton imposed a 25.2% treatment rate increase. The IBCD Board of Directors was reluctant to immediately “pass through” the entire rate increase imposed by Chesterton. IBCD did increase its monthly sewer bill in 2005 ($25.00 per month) and absorbed the additional costs attributable to the Chesterton treatment rate increase until January 1, 2006 when the remainder of the Chesterton treatment rate increase was “passed through” to IBCD customers resulting in a new monthly sewer bill for IBCD customers totaling $30.00 per month.
In 2009, Chesterton again imposed a treatment rate increase totaling 12%. This necessitated an increase in the IBCD sanitary sewer customer billing to $34.00 per month which was effective January 1, 2009. IBCD works to minimize the payments made to Chesterton by eliminating sources of groundwater infiltration and assuring accurate flow meter readings. Since 1994, IBCD has imposed a cumulative improvement fund tax rate so as to accumulate revenue for repair and replacement of equipment. Most of these funds have been spent to ensure the integrity of the IBCD lift stations.
In 1998, IBCD refinanced its debt at a lower interest rate and shortened the maturity by three years. The final bond payment was made in 2009 which saved IBCD customers approximately Two Hundred Seventy Five Thousand Dollars ($275,000.00) in interest expense. The retirement of the indebtedness incurred to build the sanitary sewer collection system allowed IBCD to transfer a significant portion of operational expenses into the real estate property tax assessment thereby facilitating a reduction in the monthly sewer bill while not increasing the property tax collection. Effective January 1, 2010, IBCD lowered the monthly sanitary sewer billing to $17.00. This represented a 50% reduction in the monthly sewer bill paid by IBCD customers. The largest portion of IBCD expenses remains that which is paid to Chesterton for sewage treatment. That expense continues to grow as Chesterton imposes additional rate increases.
Effective January 1, 2011, IBCD was again able to lower the monthly sanitary sewer rate to $15.00 per month. Customer billing was changed to quarterly basis. Customer bills are due and payable on March 31, June 30, September 30 and December 31 of each calendar year. Customers paying the entire annual user fee by January 31 shall be entitled to a discount equivalent to one month ($15.00) usage fee.
Effective December 1, 2012, Chesterton raised our sewage treatment costs from $3.15 per thousand gallons to $3.63 a 15.2% increase. These costs are paid out of our General Fund which is funded by our customers' real estate property tax. Tax rates have increased sufficiently that IBCD did not to have to increase our user service rate.
The IBCD Board Members remain steadfast in their commitment to operate an efficient, functioning and regulatory compliant collection system.
January 2, 2014
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