(A name given to me by the City Controller since I regularly attend the Council Meetings and 14 Budget Hearings)
Water in South Bend
Recently the Council voted to raise your water rates. Here is an overview of this increase.
#61-18 -> Article 14 - Establishing Interim Storm Water Utility Rates - Fund 667 (Storm Sewer Fund) has been created. They want to start billing June 2019. The fee adds $24 per year to residential water bills, and $60 per year for businesses. This will be in effect for at least two years and will be available for increases although it can be increased any time the Council determines more money is needed. This means adding liens to properties.
There will be late payment penalties per Ind Code 8-1.5-5-29, 8-1.5-5-30 at a rate of 10%. "If penalties are not paid when due, they shall be collected in the same manner that other delinquent fees and penalties are charged and assessed consistent with Indiana Law." (This means adding leans to properties.) There is already a strain on many trying to pay other utilities. This will raise the rent since landlords are responsible for paying the water bills first and then collecting them from their tennants.
This will bring in approximately $1.2M a year, but a $600K software upgrade will be necessary to handle these new fee charges on the water bills. (Eric Horvath, Public Works Director)
This software was approved last year for the 2019 budget and will not be ready until June 2019.
"Life Line Rates" will be available for those who meet income guidelines. Seniors not making over a certain amount may also receive the lower rates.
This will raise the rent since landlords are responsible for paying the water bills first and then collecting them from their tennants tenants.
Before the Vote, Oliver Davis suggested a motion to defeat, but there was no second. Regina Williams-Preston moved to vote on it later in May (after the Primary Election).
VOTES: Tim Scott, John Voorde, Jake Teshka, Gavin Ferlic and Jo Broden voted in FAVOR of it so it passed. Oliver Davis, Regina Williams-Preston, Sharon McBride and Karen White voted AGAINST it.
NOTE: CSO (Combined Sewer Overflow) funding has been a concern for over a decade. It needs to be adequatedly funded. TIF Funding could have been applied since funding infrastructure is the main reason TIF was created. After all these years only 20% of our sewers have been upgraded. (See the section on Sewers)
$150M has already been spent on CSO according to Eric Horvath, Public Works Director.
Free downspout disconnection ended on Dec 31, 2018. There was $100K in the budget to help homeowners with this, but $130K is needed. It is $65 per disconnect and this is done by an outside vendor. Those who find the cost prohibitive, may be granted a waiver.
** SUMMARY OF STORMWATER PRESENTATION MADE TO COUNCIL ON NOV 26, 2018 **
Aging infrastructure stressors - Flooding, pressure on sanitary / combined sewers, new sewers needed, failing sewer lines, MS-4 Compliance
The Storm Sewer System - Includes sewers, storm inlets, catch basins, manholes, curbs, gutters, ditches, swales, retention ponds and dams
Suggested Storm Utility Fee - $2 / month for residences and $5 / Month for non-residential Customers, Exempt properties are unimproved lots and public right-of-way
National Average for residential is $5 / month Source: 2016 Stormwater Utility Survey: A Black and Veatch Report
Fees needed for - Regulatory compliance, flood control, community expectations, safety and reliability, critical emergency resiliance, waterway & habitat restoration, grants and incentives
2019 STORMWATER NEEDS:
Professional Services - Riverbank Stabilization = $200K, Downspout Disconnection Plan = $100K (Now expected to be an additional $30K)
Capital Improvement Projects - Drainage Projects = $800K, Riverbank Stabilization = $150K, South Bend Dam = $500K, Flood Mitigation = $500K, Western Ave Phase 3 Storm Sewer = $400K, Michigan Street Separation = $250K
Operations & Maintenance - To be determined
Total Expenses = $2,900,000
2019 PROPOSED BUDGET:
Professional Services = $200K
Capital Improvement Projects = $350K, South Bend Dam = $150K, Flood Mitigation = $100K, Storm Sewer Separations $400K
Operations & Maintenanace - To be determined
Total Expenses = $1,200,000
Downspout Disconnection - Dec. 2018 = 2K downspouts x $65 each, Drainage improvements = $180K, Western Ave Phase 3 = $280K, St. Joseph River Bank = $40K
TOTAL EXPENSES: $600K
"Due to extraordinary estimated costs to implement the LTCP (Long Term Control Plan) mandated by the EPA and teh IDEM, all buildings, residences, sump pumps and parking lots which currently direct their storm water into the sanitary of combined sewers shall disconnect by December 31, 2020."
Project Locations include: St. Joseph River Bank, Bendix Road & Ford Street Inlets, Laurel Woods Subdivision (Lindenwood), Poland Street Mill & Fill Repairs, Miami (Ridgedale to Chippewa) Curb installation, Royal Oaks & other Basin Dredging, Locust Road & Huey Street, Western Avenue & Brookfield Street, Bryan Street Mill & Fill, Oliver Circle, etc.
Western Ave Phase 3 will be from Falcon Street to Dundee Street will include a new storm sewer to separate from sanitary sewers.
IDNR LARE Grant was received to repair the river bank from Yukon Street and Riverside Drive.
2020 Project List - Misc Drainage Repairs, Trail under Colfax Bridge at East Race, West Race Maintenance, Fish Ladder, Hydro, Dam & River (DSSMR), East Race Maintenance, West Abutment Repairs, Downstream Channel, Right Bank Painting, Upstream Dam Buoy Replacements, River Bank Stabilization Northshore & Iroquis = $1,190,000
INCOME THIS NEW INCREASE WILL BRING IN:
415,250 Homes x $2/month = $830,000
40,732 Businesses x $5/month = $203,660
ESTIMATED REVENUE = $1,034,160
SOURCE: Department of Public Works, City of South Bend
Considering the per capita income in South Bend is $19,626, with 29.6% making under $20,000, I opposed this rate increase as a fee and pressed for TIF dollars to be used instead. The Council decided otherwise. Source of income figures: Public Works Meeting on 2/4/2019
Water Quality Issues
NOTE: This slide was created by the City of South Bend as part of the presentation.
DISCHARGE OF HEAVY METALS:
Bill No. 23-18 Request for Amendment of Local Standard Regulations in the South Bend Municipal Code on June 25, 2018 at 4:37 pm.
Presenter was Mr. Al Greek.
Committemember Regina Williams-Preston made a motion to send Bill No. 23-18 to the full Council with a favorable recommendation. Committeemember Davis seconded this motion which carried by a voice vote of four (4) ayes."
My objection at that meeting was: "My concern with moving to monthly is getting a whole big wad of something and then you average it out for the month so it doesn't look quite so bad but you've really damaged the water. I'm a little concerned about doing that. I don't think this is a great idea."
I was the only one to object and it was unanimously passed by the whole Council. Keep in mind that the City releases 500M gallons of untreated water into the river because the treatment plant is not able to handle the full capacity.
If you want to read the official City documents, I am posting it so you can read it for yourself.
It is my goal as an Advocate to involve YOU in the process.
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