Follow-Up Questions: Apr 6, 2022, Commissioner Meeting

decision making

Updated: Apr 14, 2021

April 13, 2022. The Brown County Democrat article on the April 6 meeting: Moving forward: Boards to get COVID-19 relief funds for sewer project after public comments at meetings, By  Suzannah Couch


Subject: Continued Funding and support for the BCRSD, Development motivated sewer expansion as opposed to need-based, Longer-term water and wastewater policy.
The issue — (Continued funding for the BCRSD). This is another example of good people caught in a bad system. This leads to moral corruption where people in the system cannot distinguish between right and wrong. I believe there is citizen support for improving the wastewater management system that can result in outcomes where everyone gains, or at least, are not any worse off in the long-term. A first step is suspending any further funding of the BCRSD pending a further review of their value to the county.   Ref: Brown County Leader Network (BCLN).
To: Commissioner Pittman (cc to all commissioners and the BC Democrat)
At the March 23, 2022 meeting, you asked for additional comments or questions regarding the decision to approve $300K for the BCRSD.  I summarized the conversation from the meeting in the following link that includes the audio:
Additional Questions for the April 6, 2022, Commissioner Meeting
Will you delay/pause any decision on further funding of the BCRSD?  You could ask for a complete project plan from the Helmsburg RSD. This will include what “done” will look like and the steps needed to get to “done.”  This will include when the upgraded plant is operational, the number of customers being served and when, and the monthly rates.
The purpose for then Bean Blossom RSD and now the BCRSD was to obtain sewer service for Bean Blossom. This service will now be provided by Helmsburg.  “Mission accomplished.”

No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth! — Ronald Reagan

    • Mission Accomplished. Why aren’t you (commissioners and council) phasing them out?  Why not transition them to an advisory committee on overall wastewater management strategy? 
    • Do decisions regarding the BCRSD have to first be approved by the core leadership team of the local republican party?  What role did they have on the commissioner policy to not allow citizen input at meetings?  Who proposed this idea?  Robyn Rosenberg Bowman has promoted development in Bean Blossom, routinely attends commissioner and council meetings, and is co-owner of a real estate company.  And, do any elected officials have a personal or family interest in the development of properties in Bean Blossom?
Regarding the Helmsburg project, is funding for independent and objective professional services identified in support of project management?  Link to an outline from the Project Management Institute on core tasks involved in project planning. Project Management – Planning And Improvement Cycle
Helmsburg and Lake Lemon have compelling needs for support. Lake Lemon has over 200 failed systems in flooding conditions (see floodplain map) and a customer base that supports sewers. An engineering report identified that action needs to be taken regarding the aging Helmsburg plant. Options included replacement or upgrades.
The decision now is to upgrade and extend service from Lake Lemon to the Woodland Lake corridor. Why shouldn’t the PRIORITY for funding be Lake Lemon and Helmsburg?   Given the flood plain maps, why hasn’t Lake Lemon always been the priority?
In Bean Blossom (unlike Lake Lemon) there is no evidence of wide-scale support from the customer base for sewer service. Need is based on speculation, e.g., age of homes and lack of records.  If the BCRSD and county THINK this is sufficient evidence for justifying the need, then why not submit this “evidence” to Judge Wertz, get a warrant and perform inspections on the suspected properties?   Isn’t the deliberate and improper disposal of wastewater a violation of state law?
The attitude of the BCRSD from the beginning of this project (June 2018) conveyed an overall contempt for citizens to be served reinforced by a  “my-way-or-the-highway” leadership philosophy. More recent evidence of this attitude has been the refusal of the BCRSD to respond to a request for information that they are obligated to provide under state law.
The overall attitude (and distrust for motives) may have contributed to landowners refusing to sell land for a plant. Further, the BCRSD will need 190 easements from current landowners — How likely is this to happen without legal action by the BCRSD and along with the threat of eminent domain – a threat that was used in BCRSDs failed attempt to acquire land from Parks and Recreation?
    • Where is the accountability?  The BCRSD spent $220k of 270K provided by the County Council to fund plans for a new plant for Bean Blossom. Approximately 220K was spent BEFORE any land was acquired.  The commitment made to the council to justify the 270K included the expectation that funding would be approved and that construction could start within 18 months.

Conclusion?  Has the BCRSD outlived its useful life as an RSD? The BCRSD does not need a “warrant” to require that everyone within 300 feet of a sewer line be hooked up. Will they have ANY jurisdiction regarding customers being served by Helmsburg?

    • Why not thank the members for their service and transition them to an advisory committee? 

Will the  BCRSD actions delay project funding for Helmsburg and the delivery of needed services to include a reduction of rates for current Helmsburg customers that are paying $92.50 for service?  The State recommendation is a fee in the $65.00 – $85.00 range.

The special interests (including the core of the local Republican Party?) that support expanded sewer service in the Bean Blossom area may desire development  (a want).  But will the lack of wide-scale customer support and speculation as to the need be problematic? What role will federal agencies have on approving projects?  Do federal agencies support funding for development?  No question on the “need” for Helmsburg and Lake Lemon.

 Tim J. Clark 
Additional Information
Watch List – BCRSD. Includes history, risk. and concerns.

    • RSDs – American Rescue Plan (ARP) Funding. The proposal for funding was  submitted by the Brown County Regional Sewer District (BCRSD) with a copy to the Helmsburg Regional Sewer District (HRSD). The BCRSD is currently requesting $300,000 from the ARP funds.
    • Copy of the BCRSD Proposal to the Commissioners: Cover-letter-and-proposal-to-brown-county-commissioners.  Areas covered range from Lake Lemon to Bean Blossom.  Bean Blossom includes but not limited to Brownies, Bill Monroe, Staley’s Mobile Home Park, greater Bean Blossom, Little Fox and Woodland Lakes, and Freeman Ridge.
    • Helmsburg (HRSD) Proposal for APR funding. HRSD identifed the need for $515,000 (has since been increased). Commissioners did approve the 25K needed to acquire more land to support a plant expansion.  Dec 6, 2021, HRSD_BCRSD Joint Proposal to Commissioners. Commissioners also approved $40,000 to hook up two customers (Mar 22, 2022 meeting.)
BCRSD – Bean Blossom Project – For the Record

Brown County Regional Sewer

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