Regional Sewer Board – Bean Blossom Sewer Project – For the Record

BACKGROUND

Everyone wants a safe and healthy environment. We deserve facts and not “spin” when it comes to proposing a change.  Due diligence requires that you identify the process that will be used to identify the problem and solutions  and be “radically transparent.”  This is referred to as good government.

Example County Decision-Making Process.

This project has been in the works for  “20 years” or so and it appears the motivation has been from current business owners or those with an interest in the development of their land.  There are no facts supported with evidence that validate that there are problems with the septic systems of the 200+ homes targeted for sewers.

There appears to be a 100% agreement from those with a commercial interest in the area to be served. Has any thought ever been given by this group to pool/invest their own money for a packaged plant?  Another option is to work with Helmsburg (may require a mediator) to accept the flow from commercial properties? This would likely be less expensive than $7.3 million dollars from federal and state taxpayers.

The current spin is that all the county’s “soils are bad” (not true) and that the age of a home can be used to determine that a system has outlived its useful life (not true).   However, if this was the case, could we have at least 3,000-4,000 or more homes with “outdated systems”?    If so, a conservative estimate of repairs/replacements at $10,000 per system could create a $30-40 million dollar market for — septic system inspectors and installers or to “nudge/force” people on to sewers where they exist or fund development of more sewer systems.  Will federal and state money be available for additional sewer systems?

Another claim is that people can “opt-out.”  This is questionable and “opting out” may come with a stipulation that a homeowner will have to allow for inspections – wonder how these would turn out?

The current “idea” is to create a County Wide Sewer Board / Utility by consolidating the sewer boards from Helmsburg, Gnaw Bone, (Bean Blossom?), and Nashville (?). This has its pros and cons.  On the cons, it allows for the consolidation and abuse of power.

The Regional Sewer Board has the power to impose financial obligations onto citizens without county government review or approval. (Reference: Statement made in a public meeting by the previous President of the Sewer Board – Evan Werling).

The process used to fast-track the government-owned Maple Leaf Music Venue should give anyone pause when it comes to giving more power to the current administration – many of whom just got re-elected by a minority of registered voters.

ORGANIZATION

Decision Makers – 2018 Brown County Regional Sewer District Board members:  Judy Swift Powdrill, (President) Phil LeBlanc, Debbie Larsh, Mike Leggins, Clint Studabaker.

2018 Elected officials that appointed Board Members:

  • Commissioners: Dave Anderson, Diana Biddle, Jerry Pittman.
  • County Council Members who appoint Board members and also approved a $270K budget for the board: Keith Baker (President) David Critser, John Price, Glenda Stogsdill, Debbie Guffey,  Art Knight, Darren Byrd.

Funding Source: Indiana Finance Authority.  State Revolving Fund.  The State Revolving Fund (SRF) Loan Programs provide low-interest loans to Indiana communities for projects that improve wastewater and drinking water infrastructure. The Program’s mission is to provide eligible entities with the lowest interest rates possible on the financing of such projects while protecting public health and the environment. SRF also funds non-point source projects that are tied to a wastewater loan.

TIMELINE

Dec 5, 2018, RSB Meeting Notes – Facebook Post – Key Point

  • The President of the Board (Judy Swift Powdrill) acknowledged citizen concerns with this project. She made a motion that they put the project on hold to gather the data needed to validate proof of need and want. Despite that there are no facts to justify the need, the board voted unanimously to go forward with the project. (at a cost to taxpayers of $7.3 million). The previous RSB President – Evan Werling also concluded that they could not identify a need.
  • Audio Recording of the Meeting
  • Comments from Paul Navarro

Dec 4, 2018. BCD  Waste disposal ‘first and foremost’ in development decisions, By Sara Clifford.  The Brown County Regional Sewer District is in the process of applying for a combination of grants and loans to build a sewer system in the Bean Blossom area which would replace more than 200 individual home and business septic systems. It’s a project that’s been in the works in some form or another for 20 years. …   

Nov 16, 2017. Letter to Residents – Posted at Brown County Matters. Does not identify that there are any failed septic systems in the area to be served.  

  • In their letter to residents, their justification included a need based on the “age” of a system and using an “opinion” by Purdue Extension Service that “suggests “an ” average” lifespan of a maintained system is 25 years. An effective and maintained system could last longer than 25 years. AND it’s very likely that this could be proven by working systems in the county that are older than 25 years. The letter also draws the conclusion that $85.00 a month forever (a price that will rise over time) is more cost-effective than a septic. Interesting math.

Nov 6, 2018.  Is a regional sewer partnership possible? By At a couple public meetings this fall, Brown County Redevelopment Commission President Jim Kemp suggested another idea: rolling the Gnaw Bone and Helmsburg regional sewer districts into the Brown County Regional Sewage District.

Nov 6, 2018Groups gathering data for Bean Blossom sewer project Location in Bean Blossom not identified.  A decision on where the plant will go will probably need to be made by this spring, he said. In the meantime, the board, its hired engineer and other parties are still working on other aspects of the sewer plan so it can be submitted for funding to state and federal agencies. Part of that work is gathering data on why and where sewers are needed.

Oct  9, 2018  RSD Meeting.  Brown County Matters – Facebook Posts  

Sept 21, 2018 GUEST OPINION: How the Brown County Regional Sewer District came to be Editor’s note: This guest column was written with input from Brown County Regional Sewer District Board members Judy Swift Powdrill, Phil LeBlanc, Debbie Larsh,…

June 6, 2018. Preliminary Engineering Report (PER). Received copy (thumb drive) from the RSB President on June 6, 2018.

June 20, 2018Regional Sewer District One Step Closer To Offering Service By BROCK TURNER .

Some residents say they’ve lost trust in the Brown County Regional Sewer District Board. The board Tuesday night allocated $270,000 for an environmental study the State of Indiana requires for …

May 9, 2017.  Resigning sewer board volunteers claim project obstruction,  Sara Clifford – Three of the five members of the Brown County Regional Sewer District Board have resigned amid allegations that the Brown County Health Department has been derailing the Bean Blossom sewer project and disparaging the current sewer board along the way.

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