Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why should our community consider a sanitary sewer project?
Taking a proactive approach toward protecting surface and drinking water resources is the responsibility of each and every area resident. Consideration of a common collection and treatment system for the wastewater we generate each day is a proven option.
Q: Why a conservancy district versus a regional district?
A conservancy district is the only structure that is in fact led by our very own residents who will make responsible, informed decisions, with required public input, under the same tax guidelines as any other structure. The difference is that a regional district would be led by government bureaucrats who will likely require higher costs that will be dictated to us. With grants, lower bond rates, and other discount structures that a conservancy district can use, and based on the engineering and plant treatment options that we have explored, we are recommending a conservancy district to be the most locally-controlled and the most cost-effective solution that is fair to all.
Q: How will the board of the Sewer Conservancy be formed and work?
The current proposal is for a board of five people. The initial board is appointed by the County Commissioners and terms are likely to be for three (3) years. It is anticipated that these people would rotate off on different years. So likely initial members would have various termination dates. Thereafter, members are then elected at annual meeting from people within the conservancy district. This conservancy district is being formed for the sole purpose of implementing a sewer system for the lake -- and for no other reason.
Conservancy district elections are not part of the general election process. Members of the board of directors are elected by the freeholders at the annual meeting of the conservancy district. The date of the annual meeting is set by the circuit court as part of the order creating the conservancy district.
The conservancy district statute makes provision for an absentee voting process which enables people to vote by mail if they are unable to be in attendance at the annual meeting.
Q: Why base fees on the assessed value of properties?
It is appropriate to proportion costs for new essential public utilities based on the relative assessed value of real estate as this is exactly how many other municipal services are paid for (in Indiana) that require initial capitalization, continued reinvestment, and ongoing operation and maintenance. This includes entities such as law enforcement and emergency services including their needed facilities (fire stations and police departments) along with funding for school facilities, county government services and buildings, correctional facilities, local bridges, economic development, local environmental health departments, and some social services. Conservancy districts are enabled to apply this approach versus the more restrictive model of rates and charges of the regional districts where all customers pay the same rate regardless of home value, or volume of usage.
Q: Why did the committee decide to recommend that the annual assessment should be based on property valuation and not evenly spread to all freeholders as the size and value of home has no relationship to the number of household participants using the new system?
Current committee members believed that the assessed fee could be a tax advantage to some residents. The Board will not form and make these decisions until after the district is formed. It may be that that the district board could decide to go that way when the project develops. These options will likely be fully explored as the project proceeds.
Q: How would this project affect me?
If local officials decide to move forward with a project, homeowners and businesses within the service area will be required to connect to the new sewer.
Q: When might this project proceed?
If everything goes according to plan, possibly within the next 36 months.
Q: How is the project cost estimated?
Project costs are estimated through the development of a detailed study and preliminary design completed by a licensed engineer who has experience in many Indiana projects. Preliminary estimates are based on the study’s information and include a variety of factors: final design, routing, road restoration, construction market conditions, and changing material costs.
Q: How will the project be funded?
A portion of the project’s cost could be funded through a USDA grant and loan. Our final share will depend on community demographics. A revenue bond or a long-term low interest loan will cover the local share (these are typically issued by the local wastewater district).
Q: How will the bond be repaid?
The bond will be repaid through rates and assessments paid by the new sewer system’s customers. No landowners beyond the area served by the system will be affected. Rates will be a combination of monthly and biannual charges with a portion appearing on your property tax statement (which is tax deductible).
Q: What would be my share of the project cost?
Final rates will be determined by the actual costs of the project. Estimated and similar project costs are presented in this document.
Q: Is it mandatory that I connect to the system?
Yes, if you are within the approved district.
Q: What about those of us who recently installed a new septic system or completed our
new home with a septic system?
The law allows you to seek a temporary exemption based on the age and condition of your septic system. To qualify, your system must be no more than ten years old, and be inspected by a qualified expert as to operational condition and serviceable life. If the project proceeds, all homeowners will receive (by direct mail) details on how to prepare, file and procure the exemption.
Q: What happened approximately 10 years ago when people attempted a sewer initiative on Lake Tippecanoe?
In 1997, a group of people made an attempt to form a conservancy district but from what we have heard this was attempted without educating of the general public and therefore it did not advance forward. As a result, the The Watershed Foundation (TWF) was formed to work on stopping sources of pollution at their source.
When the Lakeland Regional Sewer District (LRSD) was formed to build the new sewer system around the Barbee Chain in 2007, another attempt was made by a small group to get the three lakes of Tippy, Little Tippy and Oswego (as well as Chapman Lakes) added. The LRSD did not feel that it was in their interest to do so at the time.
Q: Where will the wastewater treatment plant be located that will process the waste water from the sewers (the Barbee chain, or others)?
This is still under evaluation as there are three options available.
Q: The Lilly Center for Lakes & Streams just delivered their latest empirical data which seems to say Tippy is no worse than any other lake around here, most of which already have approved septic systems. What is the reply to this data?
The Lilly Center for Lakes & Streams study and data analysis was not designed to address this question. The data was designed to promote the positive aspects of lakes and it was not designed to address the facts and long-term impacts of water quality and sewers on lakes.
We advise that the good news shared in the report should not lead us to be complacent about the need to be proactive in the protection of their surface and drinking water. Also, many such analysis may provide a snap shot in time relative to the general appearance of surface water quality. However, it may not tell the whole story, as the report’s data is considering a passive, average over past time and not the future outlook of water quality conditions. There are very real threats to human and ecosystem health during regularly-occurring adverse conditions; such as the high water levels we have experienced this spring. Water well testing is also advised. We should not wait until there are signs of decline, as this would be a very wrong and reactive approach to sustaining our lake.
Q: Is the trailer park near the Dance Hall included in the proposed Conservancy District?
Yes, this area is included and you can visit the web site: www.sustainourlake.com and view the map of the proposed area.
Q: Will boat companies and marinas be included in the service area?
All of the marinas with in the proposed district are included. Refer to the map
Q: Why was Stanton Lake not included in the service area?
Once the Conservancy district is approved, we will recommend contacting the property owners around Stanton Lake to see if they would like to be a part of the District.
Q: What funding (grants) did the Lakeland Regional Sewer District receive from either the Federal or State government?
LRSD received two grants: one from the Federal government at or about 25%, and an additional grant from the State. We would hope to qualify for the similar rate from the Federal government but do not expect the State of Indiana will provide any grant due to recent political funding changes.
Q: Will the proposed property assessment rate be locked for any period of time or will this be adjusted up or down in the future? What will happen to the annual assessment when the 40-year loan is paid off?
It would be locked in for the term of the debt, assuming this is what it is used for. It would not likely go away at the 40-year mark, as it is likely that some continued payment will be needed to maintain the system.
Q: Is the $900,000 a maximum or is there no cap amount?
The sample tax table is just that an estimate based on various tax rates as shown: $ 0.34 per $100 of assessed value, $0.29 / $110AV, and $.26/ $100AV. Anyone can use these figures to estimate their portion of the annual property tax assessment based on their full property assessed value (not market value – see tax statement).
Q: What will be the affect of increased property assessment value on the annual fee to be assessed? Or what happens if a property valuation is in process of being litigated when the property tax assessment is determined?
The fee would typically adjust with the properties assessed value.
Q: Why is the cost to hook up to the system not more narrowly defined than $500 to $4500, or some relationship to an estimated price per linear foot charge.
This could be worked on, however there is such a broad variation in site conditions that we would just be guessing. We might be better to advise residents that they need to expect to pay for this work and the best way to get a feel for costs is to talk to a few contractors based on their individual property conditions. Currently, there is a lot of this work going on in the Barbee Chain of Lakes.
Q: Who will determine location of grinder station, if it is shared by more than one resident, since this will affect the cost for each resident to hook up? Will it be based on distance from the grinder? And if shared, may this require building a sewer hook-up pipe to run across a shared neighbor’s property?
This will be determined by the design engineer. We would not expect a resident to run across a neighbor’s property unless we determine that was the most cost-effective thing to do. In that scenario, we procure the easement then run the service lead to the owner’s property line.
Q: Why was the example shown using a $200,000 home when this is far below the average home price on Lake Tippecanoe?
Based on a brief review of the number of parcels, it is estimated that 70% of properties are under $300,000 in total assessed value within the proposed Conservancy district. Note that a property’s assessed value and market value are different. It is the County Assessor who recertifies each home’s total assessed value each year.
Q: Will the current restriction on number of bedrooms still be in affect after sewers are installed?
If the restriction is related to sanitary limitations then the sewer would solve that issue.