4-0-1 vote Monday night passes higher sewer rate ordinance PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marty Randall   
Friday, 09 February 2018 15:39



By a vote of four City Council members for it and one abstention, the controversial ordinance that will increase individual sewer rates and tap-on fees in Scottsburg became law on Monday night, February 5.

About 25 citizens attended the Council meeting, perhaps one-tenth of the number of people who had come to protest and/or listen as a third reading of the ordinance was offered for the Council’s consideration last October.

At that meeting, those who voiced objections to the increases in rates were greeted with applause. At the February 5 meeting, the only person who spoke was developer/builder Mike Guthrie.

In October, Guthrie expressed his views that the plan to spend $18 million and repair/replace the current sewer treatment plant was too excessive, that a less expensive approach could be put in place based on a pre-engineering report (PER) prepared by city engineer Bill Saegesser.

He again said that PER could be the basis for a less-aggressive, cheaper approach to the city’s sewer problems on February 5. But he started his presentation by telling Mayor Bill Graham by saying the meeting that evening should never have been scheduled.

Guthrie cited his concerns that the recent work session held by the Council to discuss options was held illegally. The work session was scheduled in the face of demands recently mailed by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM). IDEM has demanded the city show proof of progress toward correcting overflow problems and its soon-to-be-installed phosphorus treatment system.

Mayor Graham said the Council needed that time to look over the sewer problem and IDEM’s most recent correspondence, and city attorney Kerry Thompson said that, in his opinion, the session was legally held. “No decisions were made (at the work session),” the Mayor assured Guthrie.

Another concern of Guthrie’s was that the Monday night Council action was on the third and final reading of the ordinance.

Again, Thompson said the Council was acting legally because no action was taken on the ordinance at the October meeting. At that earlier meeting, Mayor Graham’s requests for a motion to pass the ordinance on its third reading fell on deaf ears. His request “died” for lack of a motion, but the ordinance did not die. Instead, that evening was a tabling of the matter, not an end to it, Thompson said.

Consequently, when the Mayor asked for a Council motion to pass the ordinance on its third reading, he got it from Council President Bill Hoagland. The motion was seconded by Councilman Stanley Allen.

Hoagland and Allen were joined by members Chuck Rose and Karen Gricius in voting for the ordinance’s passage. John Konkler, the lone Republican on the Council, abstained.

Asked why he declined to vote on the matter, Konkler stated, “I simply think we need to do more research. I think there are cheaper systems out there we need to look at.”

The vote sets in motion the financing steps that will need to be taken to pay for the project, which is projected will cost up to $18 to $18.5 million.