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Letter To The Editor - House Bill 1497

 

Troy Sutton

Shipshewana

 

To the Editor:

I am writing to urge you to help defeat House Bill 1497. This legislation is a patch to existing legislation that benefits a small vocal segment of our community at the expense of the rest of the community. If this legislation passes, the likely outcome will be greater health risks, increased cost for individuals, increased cost to municipalities, and an increase in court cases.

There are several provisions of this proposed legislation that pose a risk to society. For instance, the definition of a “qualified inspector” includes: “Any other person who can demonstrate sufficient knowledge of sewage disposal systems to determine if a sewage disposal system is failing.”

Under this definition, the person pumping effluent out of septic systems, regardless of educational level, could be making decisions that impact the health of the environment and our families. If nothing else, this definition is open to interpretation, which will result in lengthy and costly litigation.

The proposed legislation removes any ability for utility districts to ensure a revenue stream compliant with the law. According to the law being amended, charges by a sewer district: “… must produce an income sufficient to maintain the not-for-profit utility's property in sound physical and financial condition to render adequate and efficient service. A rate too low to meet these requirements is unlawful.”

If the proposed amendments are enacted, sewer charges to the majority of individuals in the district would be subject to increase at any time, or the not-for-profit utility district will go out of business.

If local utility districts were run out of business due to an inability to meet the income requirements, the sewer systems would necessarily be turned over to the counties to operate. If and when this happens, either local property taxes get raised to cover the costs, or other governmental requirements go unmet.

Any review or amendment to Indiana environmental laws should be done comprehensively and should take into account the best interests of all of society, not just a vocal minority.