To the Editor:
This is an open letter to Mike Sutter, president of the LaGrange County Regional Utility District.
Mike, do you recognize the following passages??
“The District shall, at its sole cost and expense, design and construct, oversee design and construction, and finance all of the sewage works deemed necessary by the District to serve the Shipshewana Lake Area for the collection and transportation of the sanitary sewage to be accepted and treated….”
“The District shall operate, service, and maintain, at its sole expense, the District’s sewage collection and transportation works constructed by the District and serving the Shipshewana Lake Area.”
Mike, you should recognize these words since they are included in a legal document you personally signed as a member of the District’s Board. You do read what you sign, don’t you?
Now I see that you have stated in this paper that those who can utilize the waivers available under HEA 1117 will have to pay extra cost and will be responsible in the future for maintaining the equipment.
I also seem to remember some sort of ordinance you passed that requires people not giving LCRUD the whole easement on their property that LCRUD DEMANDS, to themselves be required to pay LCRUD separately for the equipment and connection accessories and once again to assume the cost and responsibility of future maintenance.
How so? Do you realize that in order to get the construction permit, LCRUD stipulated to IDEM in writing and court testimony that LCRUD “will be responsible for installing and maintaining the proposed grinder pump stations, the 1.25-inch diameter pressure sewer service lateral, the curb stop/check valve assembly and the electrical system”? Do you realize the above passages combine to state that LCRUD is the sole financially responsible party for building and maintaining the system?
How does that work, Mike? You tell IDEM and others what they want to hear so that you can get approval, and then afterward you feel free to do a 180 and whatever you want? It sure sounds like the vindictive ordinance and LCRUD’s threats violate the permit and agreement terms you and the others at LCRUD signed, by attempting to shift off your responsibilities to a targeted group of people, apparently only as a means of exacting punishment on people that don’t cave into your demands. I’m also wondering if LCRUD is planning on getting USDA and users to pay for all the pumps now, then turning around and getting them paid for a second time by the people you aimed your ordinance at.
After all, the purchase of the specified number of required pumps and related fixtures is included in the current capital cost rates and the USDA funding.
The people you aim your ordinance at would already be paying their share of the equipment and connection cost as part of the monthly rate you plan to bill since they were included in the original project calculations. I’d love to see what USDA and the Federal government would have to say about LCRUD charging a user twice for the same pumps and equipment on which USDA provided funding.
As an aside, did the bulb light up above anyone’s head at LCRUD that maybe something was wrong when your outside ratemaking consultant in December provided LCRUD with a detailed listing of rates for a multitude of various business categories in the Shipshewana project? This list was given to people that attended your December rate hearing, including me. Elsewhere in writing it is stated that the project “shall not include connection for commercial, or industrial, or other than residential facilities or users.” (By the way, Mike, that passage is also in the same document you signed that I referred to earlier).
Your organization actually engaged an outside consultant to calculate rates for dozens of categories of users that aren’t even allowed in the project in the first place. It sure looks to me like someone is running up the bill and the District in turn is spending ratepayers’ and federal money to purchase information that they should have known was totally useless.
To me, it’s more than sewage that smells here. I hope you plan to ask for a partial refund of fees paid to this firm. Please do keep us informed about this matter.