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House bill on sewer districts passes Senate; Returns to House

 

House Bill 1117, which was co-authored by Rep. Dave Wolkins (R-Winona Lake), was passed by the Indiana State Senate on Wednesday and now goes back to the House for approval due to alterations made by the Senate.

According to a release from Rep. Wolkins, HB 1117 would require notice and a public hearing before a petition may be filed to establish a regional water, sewage or solid waste district. Additionally, the legislation would allow for a procedure to exist for ratepayers subject to a new district to object to the initial rates or charges.

The bill, if signed as is, would also allow a 10-year exemption for property owners from connecting to the district or utility’s sewer system. It would allow the property owner to apply for two five-year exemptions if their residential septic system is in accordance with local health department standards.

The bill also provides that a bed at a youth camp would be billed at one-eighth residential equivalent unit, the basis for calculating rates in a service district.

Other provisions in the current form of the bill would cap the daily penalty for failure to connect to a sewer system at $100 per day.

Under the proposed law, sewer districts that use a flat charge to determine rates, as the LaGrange County Regional Utility District does for most of its service districts, would have to provide a written summary of how the flat charge was calculated.

The law currently includes language that would prevent a property from being foreclosed upon if the only lien on the property is from a utility district.

If passed, the law would also require that at least one appointed trustee to a district board would have to be an elected official who represents a political subdivision in the district, such as a county commissioner or county council member.

If the changes made by the Senate are approved, the bill will go on to Governor Daniels’ desk to be signed into law.