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Utility district told new legislation won’t hurt Shipshe project


The LaGrange County Regional Utility District heard an update on legislation that was passed by the Indiana General Assembly and signed into law last Friday by Gov. Daniels.

The district’s legal counsel, John Gastineau, told the board that he didn’t believe that the new law would have “a significant detrimental effect” on the district or the Shipshewana West project. The district would have to make some changes in operations to be in compliance with the new laws, he added.

The board heard an update on the project, which included closing on the funding for the project Monday and signing the construction contract. “With the contract signed, the clock starts ticking,” Engineer Steve Henschen told the board. The contract calls for “substantial completion” within 240 days from signing the contract, which would be Nov. 14. Substantial completion means all pumps are running and pipes tested, with the system ready to operate. The contractor has an additional 30 days for final completion, including cleanup.

Henschen told the board that he expects the contractor to begin mobilizing on site within 30 days. Prior to that, workers will be locating utilities and sighting areas for pumps and lines.

Gastineau told the board that there could be up to four residences that could meet the state’s requirements for exemption based on their residential septic system. The four possible sites have septic systems that are less than 10 years old. Gastineau noted that if a septic system is older than the initial exemption period of 10 years, it can’t qualify for the exemption or the five-year extension.

The systems would also need to be certified by the county health department.

Board President Mike Sutter asked if those that were eventually exempt would realize that, when they did hook into the system, there could be “financial consequences.” Gastineau said that would be pointed out to the property owners at the time of the exemption.

Other changes in the law include how youth camps are charged. If a youth camp selects the flat rate billing, a district can only charge them ⅛ (0.125) per bed per Residential Equivalent Unit (REU). Existing flat rate billing for camps was at 0.267 REU. The board was told that they would need to formally adopt the changes in billing in the district’s rate ordinance.

Gastineau told the board that there was going to be some legislation passed out of the general assembly dealing with utility districts. However, what was finally passed “was better for us than it could have been. It was as good as we could hope for,” he said.