Joint RSD Meeting Notes, Jan 24, 2023 – Helmsburg and Brown County Regional Sewer Districts (RSDs)

Joint RSD Meeting  Notes Jan 24, 2023 – Helmsburg and Brown County Regional Sewer Districts (RSDs) Posted at Brown County Matters

  • Future meetings: BCRSD – Feb 14, HRSD – Feb 1, Joint – Feb 28
  • Draft Map and phased approach to the expansion of sewers for an estimated $30 million (plus) investment. The BCRSD board members believe that the public is not entitled to review the draft. The state public access counselor will make a determination.
  • Deliverables – April 1, 2023. This is the target date for both boards to have a completed Preliminary Engineering Report (PERs). These should include the “final” map (s) of the areas to be served. Both boards believe they can meet this target. The PERs are required in order to get funding. Once/if funding is secured for the proposed projects, rates can be estimated. Obtaining easements will be needed prior to any construction.
  • BCRSD – Lack of a customer (citizen) focus. The BCRSD has been consistent in developing a solution (PER) and then informing the customers of their decisions after the fact. This was the approach taken in June 2018 when they introduced the PER in their failed efforts to build a new sewer plant in Bean Blossom. They were granted over $270K from the county in support of this initiative. They received another $300K from the county to support the current project.
  • Risks. In the Bean Blossom area, residents will need to grant over 190 easements. The BCRSD was unable to acquire land for a new sewer plant in Bean Blossom and residents may push back on granting easements. The “need” in the Bean Blossom area has included the desire for development. There is no documented evidence of failing systems that would support the significant investment in the Bean Blossom area. The two previous BCRSD board presidents resigned over the issue of not validating a need and getting customer buy-in. The EPA has identified that conventional septic systems are designed to operate indefinitely if properly maintained.
  • Helmsburg Projects. Unlike the Bean Blossom area, the Helmsburg, Trevlac, and Lake Lemon areas do have a documented need and community support.
  • County Wastewater Strategy – Responsibility and Accountability. The BCRSD has decided not to hold public meetings yet on the results of “their” county-wide wastewater strategic plan and water quality study. This public meeting was to allow for questions on the scope of the solutions and the analysis of needs. Commissioners and the Council appoint members to the RSD boards, provide money, and also have a responsibility to hold public meetings to ensure citizens are aware of the scope, status, and risk of initiatives.
  • The County Comprehensive Plan should represent the “voice of the citizens”  to include what residents want and do not want in terms of a wastewater strategy. This plan or updates to this plan requires resident input at public hearings. This allows citizens to voice their concerns regarding need, affordability, and support or lack thereof to their “elected” officials as opposed to “appointed” officials. Elected officials can delegate accountability but not their responsibility. Voters have a responsibility to hold elected officials accountable.
  • The So what?  When you are adding costs to hundreds of citizens to include monthly fees (and other start-up costs?) for a service that may not be needed by all,  it may not be well-received which increases project risks.

Commissioner Meeting Notes Jan 18, 2023

2023_01_10 Concept Walk Through - Brown County Leader Network

Notes from Jan 17, 2023. County Council Meeting. — See context and areas of interest in 2023.

On the 2023 approved budget, in order to balance the budget, revenue and expenses are “always” understated and there are always surprise expenses – generally in infrastructure and leases.  Things get “worked-out” during the year.  What’s new this year is that the county is already short by over 700K (maybe more or less) in order to build the needed courthouse renovations.

Commissioner meeting notes – Jan 4 and Jan 19Audio of the meeting

First Commissioner Meeting Jan 4, 2023.  The meeting was not advertised or posted per state law due to miscommunication and turnover.  Votes taken at the meeting had to be redone.   This took less than 9 minutes:

    • Election of officers: Jerry Pittman President, Chuck Braden, VP.
    • Board Appointments: Derrik Clifford to CVC, Sandy Higgins to Helmsburge RSD. (No master list posted on the county website listing all positions and appointments).
    • No Money. Courthouse additions are being re-bid – and are due Feb 15, 2023.   The bid amount exceeded available funds by around 700K.  Commissioners asked the Council to borrow the money. Council required a re-bid. Given the potential for a funding shortfall, NO SPENDING FREEZE pending a budget analysis was been proposed by the commissioners. Results from a review of the status of available funds were not discussed.
      • Note: Councilman Dave Redding has started a review on the status of the funds obtained from the 3 million dollar recurring loan and funds received from the Feds via ARPA.

New Spending – Capital Improvements.  There is no published capital improvement plan or budget. 

    • Courthouse Additions. The one bid identified the following: Sally Port: $803, 996;  Public Entrance with security: $404,913.00.).  “Available county funds of 500K were identified.
    • $20K for a plan for a bicycle/pedestrian trail for Nashville; 20K to be provided by the state. No contribution from Nashville.  The cost to execute a plan will likely be over a million dollars.
    • Health Department Building. Renovations of under $50K were approved. 50K the limit for not being required to advertise for additional bids.
      • Note this “building” was purchased for 400K for community corrections. No plan as to what additional costs could be expected.
    • Coroners Building. Plans are being reviewed by Nashville. A contract to construct a new metal building was identified at $135K – the need to advertise for bids not mentioned. The county attorney had no comments.

Jan 18, 2023. Meeting Notes

    • Highway Department Superintendent.  Bids received for projects supported by the  $1 million Community Crossing Grant.  Bids to be reviewed and contracts to be awarded at the next commissioner meeting.
    • The Road Paving Plan going out to 2026 was briefed at the Oct 5, 2022  commissioner’s meeting. It has yet to be posted to the Highway Departments Website.   https://www.browncounty-in.gov/262/Road-Improvement-Plan
    • Proposed State Legislation – County reimbursement for Medical and Law Enforcement Services provided to the State.  The county provides support to the State Park without reimbursement. This has been a long-standing issue. The state has refused to provide compensation.  The State’s position is that the Park brings in visitors and revenue to the county – we should be grateful. If they provide reimbursement for us, they will have to do it for other counties as well.

County Council Meeting Notes, Jan 17, 2023

we the people declaration and flag

Council Meeting Jan 17, 2022, at 6:30 p.m.

Context.  Brown County has a one-party monopoly on political power which contributes to a closed system. A closed system does not readily accept input from those outside the system and positive change can be very incremental. A closed system is also less transparent and is typically less effective.  Newly elected officials can often bring fresh perspectives for needed changes if they are not worn down by the advocates and defenders of the status quo.

County Council Meeting Agenda Jan 17, 2023

Personnel Policies. The Commissioners are responsible for personnel issues. The Council is responsible for job descriptions and pay policies (checkbook). The duties of the commissioner’s administrative assistant were separated last year into two positions – an HR director and a part-time admin assistant. For the HR Director position, supervisory oversight was assigned to a personal advisory committee (PAC) consisting of a commissioner, councilman, and auditor. Commissioner Sanders with input provided by the county attorney reinforced that personnel oversight is a commissioner’s responsibility and challenged the legality of the PAC . This issue to be worked out in a future meeting.

Redevelopment Commission (RDC).  Questions were raised regarding budget, value, and direction.

 Health Insurance. The need for an HR director with oversight of health insurance policies emerged as a result of out-of-control costs that per councilman Redding, nearly bankrupted the county. After several years of costs exceeding budgets by several hundred thousand dollars, changes were finally made last year that may get costs under control.

Spending.  Assessment of the status of the 3 million dollar loan. Councilman  Dave Redding identified the need for the State Board of Accounts to review the types of expenses charged to this fund regarding infrastructure costs as opposed to covering operating expenses.  Note that in addition to the recurring 3 million dollar loan (it was 2 million), commissioners suggested another 700K may need to be borrowed to fund courthouse additions.

Comprehensive Plan.  Councilman Jim Kemp raised the issue of the value of the Comprehensive Plan and suggested an update starting with an assessment of demographics.

    • Draft 1993 Plan over 90 pages – not approved.

Commissioners are responsible for reviewing and approving the plan which require several public meetings. The Planning Department is the lead office.  The 14- page Comprehensive Plan of 2011 meets the “minimum” state requirements for managing zoning.  Zoning identifies the types of development desired which in turn, establishes an economic base.  The current plan is intentionally vague that allows just about anyone with the right connections and influence to get the approvals needed for their projects. Citing alignment with the comprehensive plan, good arguments can be made for or against a project. This grants appointees to the APC/BZA with too much discretionary decision-making which is rarely challenged by the commissioners. The comprehensive plan should represent the “voice” of the citizens as to what they want and do not want as opposed to the special interests. The plan should also address the community’s desire for the expansion of sewers, economic development, and tourism-related developments, including tourist rentals.

Brown County’s Yellowstone?  Preservation vs development issues. County issues are similar to the popular series Yellowstone – those who live here, love and want to maintain the land as-is as opposed to those that want to exploit development for personal gain.  The lovers of the land, which are the too-silent majority,  represent the economic base for the county.

Topics of future interest include: Funding sources for the courthouse renovations (new bids are due Feb 15). The BCMC Admin Agreement and CVC budget and the responsibility of the council and commissioners in determining revenue distributions. More frequent updates on the status of the 2023 budget – planned vs actual expenses (especially health benefit-related costs). Capital improvement (asset management) plan and budget (this would be “new). The timely posting of meeting agendas and audio recordings. Identification of internal controls for offices, departments, boards, and commissions – identifies those things that must be done per statute to avoid mission failure (this would be new.)   Review of updates to the County Comprehensive Financial Plan??  Indian Hill RR Crossing – Right of Way (Commissioner issue/re-opening and legal costs (council issue).

Other: Council has provided funding for planning by the Helmsburg RSD and Brown County RSD to expand sewer service.  There are risks associated with these projects.  Joint projects are estimated at over 30 million (40 million with inflation).

Brown County Leader Network. Methods and tools that support improvement.

Jan 14, 2023 – A Way Ahead for the Brown County Music Center

we the people declaration and flag

Updated Jan 15, 2023  

On the banner for Brown County Matters Facebook page, there is a reference to secular and non-secular approaches to improvement supported through the Brown County Leader Network (BCLN).

A secular approach supports decisions made by the few and the non-secular supports changes where everyone (all stakeholders affected) can benefit – or at least will not be any worse off in the long term.

    • Secular – Man defines the ideal influenced by many factors: experience, education, ideology, and philosophy.
      • America – Citizens define the ideal
      • Quality Management –Customer defines the ideal
      • Science Fiction –Non-humans define the ideal
    • Non-Secular Strategy – God has described the ideal; All needs are perfectly met. Actions are guided through a Biblical worldview and moral standard

An Interesting post at Brown County Chatter reinforces the secular and nonsecular strategies.
The post started with a question about the Little Opry and then branched off into the Music Center (BCMC).

Discussions regarding the Music Center will most likely always be divisive and polarizing.  A cause?  The project was fast-tracked by perhaps the well-intentioned few with the belief that although the primary motivation was to benefit the tourism industry, residents would benefit as well.

Initially, a bond was considered as a funding source that would have required community-wide support.  Then it was determined that collateral from the innkeeper’s tax would be sufficient and would just need a few people to push it through. Consequently, public meetings by elected officials to gather citizen input and support would not be needed.  Elected officials refused to contract for an independent study to assess the feasibility and risk on behalf of the citizenry.

To summarize, the venue was built to generate more tourism that benefits tourism-related businesses.  Collateral for the loan is revenue from the innkeeper’s tax. This tax is a subsidy provided by the State of Indiana to fund marketing for tourism that generates sales tax revenue.  The state is funded primarily by sales and income tax.  The county is funded by income and property tax. The BCMC is of value for some residents but without tourism-related funding and support, it most likely would never have been built. Plus,  the private sector never demonstrated a financial capability in building a venue.

A way ahead for the BCMC?  HONOR the commitments that were made that county taxpayers would not be expected to bail out this venue.  Refrain from the spin that the venue was built for the entire community (county). Leverage the use of the revenue from the innkeepers’ tax and any excess profits from the Music Center to support county priorities as determined by elected officials with input from all the stakeholders and not just a few.

Additional Information:

stakeholder community

BCRSD Meeting Notes Jan 12, 2023

Brown County Regional Sewer District (BCRSD) Meeting Notes: Jan 12, 2023, 6:00 p.m.

Facebook Post

  • Map of the overall concept and potential new customers. Board members declined my request for a copy or to post on their website. The excuse being it is a “Draft.” The excuse regarding “Drafts” has been used before and the State Public Access Counselor (PAC) overruled this opinion. What is the harm on sharing information marked as “Draft” to p[provide people with a heads-up on decisions that will affect their quality of life?  I submitted an inquiry to the PAC.
  • Easements. The target dates for completing applications for funding are April 1. Prior to construction, customers will have to agree to an easement. There is customer support in the Lake Lemon, Trevlac, and Helmsburg areas who have documented needs for service. The justifications in the Bean Blossom area have been based on speculation and conjecture.
  • Future Meetings: (1) Joint Meeting with the Helmsburg RSD on January 24, 2023 at 6PM. This meeting will be held at the BC Community Center in the lower level. (2) Joint meeting with the funding agencies, contractors, and both RSD Boards on Jan 25, 2023, 10:30 Community Foundation, lower level.
  • Boundaries. The current western boundary for the expanded sewer service is the east end of Lake Lemon. There is interest in extending further west into Monroe County. There is support for the Lake Lemon conservancy district and likely Bloomington Utilities.
  • Election of Officers. No change. The current officers reappointed to the same positions.
  • No change — current officers reappointed to the same positions. Mike Leggins (President), Clint Studabaker (VP), Phil LeBlanc (Treasurer), Richard Hall (Secretary), and Matt Hanlon (At-large).
  • Asset Management Plan. The state requires an asset management plan. This will help identify future maintenance and repair costs and likely increases in customer’s monthly rates.
  • BCRSD provided Information. Facebook Page and Website

Commissioner Meeting Notes – Dec 27, 2022

we the people declaration and flagCommissioner Meeting Notes – Dec 27, 2022.

Courthouse Additions – No Money. (Sally Port: $803, 996;  Public Entrance with security: $404,913.00.)   There was only bid. Despite several meetings on the topic, the commissioners never discussed the need to borrow money (750K) at one of their meetings. They identified the need at the Dec 19 Council Meeting. Council requested that the commissioners solicit more bids which the commissioners agreed to at this meeting.

Commentary. These are needed additions and reflect the county’s (elected officials and voters) neglect in supporting, developing and managing a capital improvement plan and budget to include identifying priorities.   The council has recognized the need and with a new commissioner, there may be some progress made in 2023.

The issue also reinforces a lack of understanding on a need for analysis and the value of strategic planning.  A “plan” identifies an outcome, action needed, resources and risks.  The term “plan” in county government meetings has often been described as being like a “new year resolution.”

In 2018, the commissioners paid for a study (16k) conducted by DLZ  that led to a proposal to build a new Justice Center. Estimated cost at around 10 million and maybe another 2 million for upgrades to the existing courthouse.  There was no public support due to a lack of a compelling need and no-plan B such as what is being proposed now by DLZ. With a little foresight, it would not have too difficult to set aside the money for “Plan B.”   The replacement of the prosecutor’s office has also been identified as a need for “years.”   No plan, no budget. Stay tuned.

Board and Commission Appointments.  The commissioner’s approved those wanting to be re-appointed. The recurring comments is that we get few letters of interest for vacancies.  The council has had a more consistent process for appointments – they advertise, review letters of interest, and expect candidates to show up at their meeting where the candidate can reinforce their interest and answer questions.  Commissioners process is more information – interview optional. They typically rely on selecting those they know.  The list of vacancies provided in this weeks Democrat.

Commentary. Post (county website) the “inventory” of all the positions to include the individuals currently in the positions, who appoints (council or commissioners), when the term expires, and the special qualifications required if any) supported with the respective statute.  Identify how and when vacancies will be filled.   At one time (Dec 2018), Commissioner Pittman identified his intent for developing a policy.

Music Center Mgmt. Group and Foundation.  I raised the issue of why non-elected officials are determining how revenue from a county government owned and operated venue can be “donated” for non-venue relates causes.

Commentary – link to more info: BCMC and Foundation

Music Center Management and Foundation

Post of article at Brown County Matters 

Interesting. Is allowing non-elected officials to decide how best to spend revenue from a government-owned and operated facility, appropriate?

The appropriate (standard) process. County government via “elected officials,” routinely provide the extra funding, in this case $38,825.50, to supplement grants that support core government services such as radios for the fire departments.

Save-Your-Seat
. Currently, the cost to “Save-Your-Seat” for a prime location is $600.00. The Music Center is a county government-owned and operated venue. “Non-elected” officials determining how best to spend revenue from the venue may be illegal or at a minimum, inappropriate. This would be a question for the County attorneys, State Board of Accounts, elected officials, and the citizens.

In the case of the Save-Your-Seat program, Commissioner Biddle mentioned at tonight’s (Dec 27, 2022) Commissioner meeting that a financial account for this program was initially established by the Foundation that may have allowed for an individual to take a tax deduction. This arrangement has been referred to as a “pass-through.” She also stated that the Foundation had the knowledge to identify an appropriate recipient.

If individuals are receiving a value for a donation (seat choice for example), it may not be tax deductible and if not and it was taken, an amended individual tax return may be required.

Admin Agreement
. The article also references an administrative agreement. The initial agreement was signed by Commissioner Biddle who also served on the Music Center management group. The amendment to the agreement was signed by Commissioner Pittman. This agreement identifies that the Foundation will receive 75% of the excess profits and the county 25%. Excess profits are determined by the non-elected officials. This admin agreement was discussed at county meetings but the county council and commissioners “did not take a Vote” to approve the agreement thus delegating to non-elected officials a responsibility that may not be supported by law.

Budget
. Note also the County Council has the legal requirement to review and approve how revenue from the innkeepers tax will be spent which can affect how much “profit” is returned to the taxpayers. The Convention Visitors Commission (CVC) is a 5 member board responsible for developing and managing the budget for the revenue received from the innkeepers tax. This revenue is used as collateral for the loan to build the Music Center and to support operations. Revenue is also distributed to the Convention Visitors Bureau (CVB). The CVB was created in 1984 to market tourism. The council historically has applied a much lower standard of review on the CVC budget than they do for the other offices. This practice needs to be reviewed – especially given the creation of the Music Center and the possibility of this venue providing a new revenue source for the county.
Regarding the Save-the-Seat program, I have asked for additional information from the Music Center officials and from the Foundation who have yet to respond to my specific questions. A request for public information from a government organization allows for up to 30 days for a response.

County Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan (MHMP)

 
The intent of the MHMP is to plan for a disaster before it occurs in order to reduce the physical, social and economic impact of that disaster, the press release said. 
 
Topics covered in the update include: an overview of the planning requirements; a summary of the risk assessment and vulnerability analysis; and proposed mitigation projects for prevention, property protection, natural resource protection, emergency services, structural control projects, and public information.”
 
Comments from the public will be accepted through Friday, Dec. 16, 2022.
 
Comments should be submitted to Armstrong by phone at 812-988-2063 or by email at EMA@browncounty-in.us.
 
Brown County Govt website: Emergency Management
 

Sewer Boards (HRSD, BCRSD) Joint Project Meeting Notes – Dec 13, 2022 

Property Taxes And Real Estate Market Growth
 

Updated Dec 18, 2022

Sewer Boards Joint Project Meeting Notes – Dec 13, 2022 noon to 1:30. Helmsburg and Brown County Regional Sewer Districts (RSD) and contractors:

Background Information – Context.  2020  Regional Assistance Program (RAP) – Regionalization Study – Helmsburg, Lake Lemon/Trevlac, Bean Blossom. Brown County Democrat: The Bean Blossom-Helmsburg sewer regionalization report is out. Here’s what it said. All these options have a price. The price for each (in Millions) — just to build it, not the annual costs for operation, repairs, and maintenance — is listed below.

    • Bean Blossom regional (BB1): $29,474,100
    • Bean Blossom local (BB2): $10,151,200
    • Bean Blossom local/Helmsburg regional (BB2 and H2): $28,612,500
    • Bean Blossom regional/Helmsburg as-is (BB3): $28,397,300
    • Helmsburg regional (H1): $28,478,500
    • Trevlac regional/Bean Blossom local (T1 and BB2): $25,367,000
    • Trevlac regional/Bean Blossom local/Helmsburg as-is (T2 and BB2): $23,897,100

Application Submittal – Target Date April 1, 2023, is the target date for the boards to submit their project for funding by the State Revolving Fund (SRF) and the USDA.  USDA requirements include reviewing a completed (shovel-ready) package including all easements.  Applications requirements include the completion of Preliminary Engineering Reports (PER), and a  Rate Study.

Projected Costs.  The target rate has been (prior to inflation) at the $65-85 a month range. Helmsburg customers are paying 92.50 a month. The PER also requires an asset management plan that will provide customers with projected increases in costs over time.  A 2017 Income survey of county residents identified that 53.1% of county residents were in the Low to Moderate Income (LMI) category. Consequently, higher costs for utilities (current and future) are a concern.

Project Description.  Helmsburg RSD is working to repair/replace its sewer plant and obtain more customers from the Lake Lemon area and Helmsburg. The BCRSD’s project to build a new plant in Bean Blossom failed (after 3 years and 200K) due to their failure to obtain land. They would also have needed to obtain about 190 easements. Their current plan is for HRSD to provide service to what they consider to be their customers.

Project Costs. The desire for guaranteed fixed-price contracts for construction was discussed.  The general consensus is that inflation will be a factor.

Funding – Planning.  American Rescue Plan Funding. The County provided Helmsburg RSD with 340K and the BCRSD  300K. The council has also provided the BCRSD with 270K in 2019 – about 50K is left.

Project Planning. Typically, only one RSD would be needed for such a project. The BCRSD has no capability to provide service to customers. The scope of their involvement is to manage the collection of wastewater for new customers. The HRSD will treat the wastewater.

Contractor Support.

Need and Justification.

HRSD. An aging plant and request for service by Lake Lemon Residents that have proven a valid need and have community support. In flooding conditions, over 200 homes have failed septic systems in the Lake Lemon area. Not a new issue but unlike BEAN Blossom, never considered a priority in the county.

Economic Development.

BCRSD.  Per the current commissioners, the desire for expanding sewer service is economic development – a “want.” Economic development is also a priority in the State.

History. The BCRSD originated from the Bean Blossom RSD. Per Commissioner Biddle, the desire for sewer service in Bean Blossom was initiated over about 20 years ago by her mother – a realtor/developer. Other commercial interests include Brownies Restuarant, the Bean Blossom Trailer Park, and the Bill Monroe Music Park and Campground.

An agreement and funding to receive service from either Nashville or Helmsburg were never reached. A few years ago, the Bean Blossom RSD was transitioned to the Brown County RSD.

Boundaries. The territory for the BCRSD includes the entire county minus the existing territories covered by current sewer plants in Nashville, Gnawbone, and Helmsburg.

Need. The two previous BCRSD Board presidents resigned due to the lack of support for documenting a need, e.g., proof of failing septic system.  This is not an issue for the current Board whose president acknowledged that he has commercial interests in Bean Blossom that can benefit from sewer services.

The BCRSD is proposing a “need” based on the age of homes that infers that respective septic system may have outlived their useful life.  Per the EPA and Presby, a well-designed and maintained system can have an indefinite life.

Soils? It has been identified that not all the soils in Brown County are conducive to septic systems. Since around the 1990’s, the state has required soil testing in order to get a permit. No issues have been identified in the county of a systemic problem, e.g., permits being declined.

Violation of State Law?  A failing septic system would be in violation of state law. To validate the assumption by the BCRSD that there is a sufficient number of failing systems to justify the expense of providing sewer service, will approving agencies require evidence of need?

Water Quality Study. A water study has also been conducted in the Bean Blossom area and has identified that “some” septic systems “may be: contributing to e-coli in the streams.  No analysis has been conducted to confirm the assumption, e.g., which systems and how many may be contributing to the problem?

Sewer Boards Joint Project Meeting Notes – Dec 13, 2022 noon to 1:30. Helmsburg and Brown County Regional Sewer Districts (RSD) and contractors:  The BCRSD Board also met Dec 13, 2022 at 6:00 -7:00 p.m.

Next Joint meeting with contractors Dec 21, 2022 at 6:00 p.m. Location likely the Brown County Community Church in Helmsburg.

Application Submittal. April 1, 2023 is the target date for the boards to submit their project for funding by the State Revolving Fund (SRF) and the USDA.  USDA requirements include reviewing a completed (shovel-ready) package including all easements.  Applications requirements include completion of Preliminary Engineering Reports (PER), and a  Rate Study.

Projected Costs.  The target rate has been (prior to inflation) at the $65-85 a month range. Helmsburg customers are paying 92.50 a month. The PER also requires an asset management plan that will provide customers with the projected increases in costs over time.  A 2017 Income survey of county residents identified that 53.1% of county were in the Low to Moderate Income (LMI) category.

Project Description.  Helmsburg RSD is working to repair/replace their sewer plant and obtain more customers from the Lake Lemon area and Helmsburg. The BCRSD’s project to build a new plant in Bean Blossom failed (after 3 years and 200K) due to their failure to obtain land. They would also would have needed to obtain about 190 easements. Their current plan is for HRSD to provide service to what they consider to be their customers.

Project Costs. The desire for guaranteed fixes price contracts for construction was discussed.  General consensus is that inflation will be a factor.

Funding – Planning.  American Rescue Plan Funding. The County provided Helmsburg RSD with 340K and the BCRSD  300K. The council has also provided the BCRSD with 270K in 2019 – about 50K is left.

Project Planning. Typically, only one RSD would be needed for such a project. The BCRSD has no capability to provide service to customers. The scope of their involvement is to manage the collection of wastewater for new customers. The HRSD will treat the wastewater.

Contractor Support.

Reedy Financia Services. They will be developing the required rate study for both RSDs.

BCRSD. Beam, Longest and Neff (BLN).https://b-l-n.com/ will be developing he Preliminary Engineering Report (PER) for BCRSD.

Lochmueller Group https://www.lochgroup.com/ will be developing the PERs for Helmsburg.

Bond Counsel. TBD.

Need and Justification.

HRSD. An aging plant and request for service by Lake Lemon Residents that have proven a valid need and have community support. In flooding conditions, over 200 homes have failed septic systems.

Economic Development.

BCRSD.  Per the current commissioners, the desire for expanding sewer service is economic development. The BCRSD originated from the Bean Blossom RSD.

History. Per commissioner Biddle, the desite for sewer service in Bean Blossom was initiated over about 20 years ago by her mother – a realtor/developer.  An agreement and funding to receive service from either Nashville or Helmsburg was never reached. A few years ago, the Bean Blossom RSD was transition to the Brown County RSD.

Boundaries. The territory for the BCRSD included the entire county minus the existing terrtueroy covered by current sewer plants in Nashville, Gnawbone, and Helmsburg.

Need. The two previous BCRSD Board presidents resigned due to the lack of support for documenting a need, e.g., proof of failing septic system.  This is not an issue for the current Board whose president acknowledged that he has commercial interests in Bean Blossom that can benefit from sewer services.

The BCRSD is proposing a “need” based on the age of homes that infers that respective septic system may have outlived their useful life.  Per the EPA and Presby, a well designed and maintained system can have an indefinite life.

Violation of State Law?  A failing septic system would be in violation of state law. To validate the assumption by the BCRSD that there is a sufficient number of failing systems to justify the expense of providing sewer service, will approving agencies require evidence of need?

Water Quality Study. A water study has also been conducted in the Bean Blossom area and has identified that “some” septic systems “may be: contributing to e-coli in the streams.  No analysis has been conducted to confirm the assumption, e.g., which systems and how many may be contributing to the problem?

– Dec 13, 2022 noon to 1:30. Helmsburg and Brown County Regional Sewer Districts (RSD) and contractors:  The BCRSD Board  also met Dec 13, 2022 at 6:00 -7:00 p.m.

Next Joint meeting with contractors Dec 21, 2022 at 6:00 p.m. Location likely the Brown County Community Church in Helmsburg.

Application Submittal. April 1, 2023 is the target date for the boards to submit their project for funding by the State Revolving Fund (SRF) and the USDA.  USDA requirements include reviewing a completed (shovel-ready) package including all easements.  Applications requirements include completion of Preliminary Engineering Reports (PER), and a  Rate Study.

Projected Costs.  The target rate has been (prior to inflation) at the $65-85 a month range. Helmsburg customers are paying 92.50 a month. The PER also requires an asset management plan that will provide customers with the projected increases in costs over time.  A 2017 Income survey of county residents identified that 53.1% of county were in the Low to Moderate Income (LMI) category.

Project Description.  Helmsburg RSD is working to repair/replace their sewer plant and obtain more customers from the Lake Lemon area and Helmsburg. The BCRSD’s project to build a new plant in Bean Blossom failed (after 3 years and 200K) due to their failure to obtain land. They would also would have needed to obtain about 190 easements. Their current plan is for HRSD to provide service to what they consider to be their customers.

Project Costs. The desire for guaranteed fixes price contracts for construction was discussed.  General consensus is that inflation will be a factor.

Funding – Planning.  American Rescue Plan Funding. The County provided Helmsburg RSD with 340K and the BCRSD  300K. The council has also provided the BCRSD with 270K in 2019 – about 50K is left.

Project Planning. Typically, only one RSD would be needed for such a project. The BCRSD has no capability to provide service to customers. The scope of their involvement is to manage the collection of wastewater for new customers. The HRSD will treat the wastewater.

Contractor Support.

Reedy Financia Services. They will be developing the required rate study for both RSDs.

BCRSD. Beam, Longest and Neff (BLN).https://b-l-n.com/ will be developing he Preliminary Engineering Report (PER) for BCRSD.

Lochmueller Group https://www.lochgroup.com/ will be developing the PERs for Helmsburg.

Bond Counsel. TBD.

Need and Justification.

HRSD. An aging plant and request for service by Lake Lemon Residents that have proven a valid need and have community support. In flooding conditions, over 200 homes have failed septic systems.

Economic Development.

BCRSD.  Per the current commissioners, the desire for expanding sewer service is economic development. The BCRSD originated from the Bean Blossom RSD.

History. Per commissioner Biddle, the desite for sewer service in Bean Blossom was initiated over about 20 years ago by her mother – a realtor/developer.  An agreement and funding to receive service from either Nashville or Helmsburg was never reached. A few years ago, the Bean Blossom RSD was transition to the Brown County RSD.

Boundaries. The territory for the BCRSD included the entire county minus the existing terrtueroy covered by current sewer plants in Nashville, Gnawbone, and Helmsburg.

Need. The two previous BCRSD Board presidents resigned due to the lack of support for documenting a need, e.g., proof of failing septic system.  This is not an issue for the current Board whose president acknowledged that he has commercial interests in Bean Blossom that can benefit from sewer services.

The BCRSD is proposing a “need” based on the age of homes that infers that respective septic system may have outlived their useful life.  Per the EPA and Presby, a well designed and maintained system can have an indefinite life.

Violation of State Law?  A failing septic system would be in violation of state law. To validate the assumption by the BCRSD that there is a sufficient number of failing systems to justify the expense of providing sewer service, will approving agencies require evidence of need?

Water Quality Study. A water study has also been conducted in the Bean Blossom area and has identified that “some” septic systems “may be: contributing to e-coli in the streams.  No analysis has been conducted to confirm the assumption, e.g., which systems and how many may be contributing to the problem?

Commissioner Meeting Notes: Dec 7, 2022  

Commissioner Meeting Notes: Dec 7, 2022  

Rezone of 44.5 acres – Harmony Cove Development. Commissions approved a re-zone at their Nov 2, 2022 meeting.  The project fell through and the re-zone was canceled (vacated).  The developer is looking for new land and the commissioners expressed their support for the project.

Animal Control Contract. Approved for 50K.

Roads and Bridges. County received 1 million from the state’s community crossing grant.   This is a recurring grant – the county has received it 5 times previously.

County’s updated asset management plan was submitted to the stat (Due Date Dec 1).  This lists the inventory and condition of all county roads.  

The plan going out to 2026 was briefed at the Oct 5, 2022  commissioner’s meeting. It has yet to be posted to the Highway Departments Website.   https://www.browncounty-in.gov/262/Road-Improvement-Plan

American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA )Funds Distribution:  County received around 3 million. Employee bonuses: 2021/22 – $748,000; Helmsurg RSD: 340K, Brown County RSD: 300K; Helmsbug Stormwater projects: 350K, Flood Control: 100K, Health Department Building renovations 50K, COAD 5K, Nashville Bicycle/Pedestrian master plan: 20K. 

Bids – Courthouse Additions. Sally Port: $803, 996;  Public Entrance with security: $404,913.00.  County likely has the funds but will require a shift in priorities.  The old CRC building is expected to be used as an alternate site for jury trials during construction.

Plans – New Coroner Office: Plans for the new building for the coroner’s office have been approved. 

Follow-up. 

    • Auditor’s Office. Health Benefits and Costs.  Request for Information.(RFI). I have asked the auditor for the history on the “total” budgeted to actual Health Insurance related costs that is reportedly available through the new accounting system.  Intent is to confirm that changes are resulting in less risk and costs to the taxpayers while still providing adequate health care for employees.   Costs have typically been underreported in the annual budget which routinely has been exceeded by over 500K a year.
    • Clerks Office.  On Oct 1, I requested a copy of the state’s audit report on the 2020 elections. County did receive a positive review.