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G'town, Floyd negotiating $1.4-M wastewater plant deal

September 17, 2008
Georgetown and Floyd County are currently in negotiations involving an out-of-court agreement that could see the county providing Georgetown "up to $1.4 million" to cover the cost of building the town's proposed wastewater treatment plant on a location other than the O'Brien property, Floyd County Attorney Rick Fox said.

As for where this alternative site will be located, Fox said it was still "up in the air."

The proposed agreement has prompted Floyd County Circuit Judge Terrance Cody to delay ruling in the case between the county and Georgetown involving the town's right to build a wastewater treatment plant on the O'Brien property another 30 days.

The county "will not raise taxes" to get the $1.4 million, Fox said, adding that instead the money will come to the county in the form of a loan. Fox did not divulge where the loan would come from, saying that County Planner Don Lopp was handling the loan application.

Fox said the agreement has yet to be finalized and that it must be approved by the Floyd County Board of Commissioners, the Floyd County Council and the Georgetown Town Council before it can be presented to the New Albany Sewer Board.

Currently, Georgetown is hooked up to New Albany's wastewater system and is due to be hit with a $450,000 fine and rate increases in February if the town is not off the system by then. The idea of presenting the agreement to the New Albany Sewer Board is to get it to give Georgetown an extension on the date of the fine or a waiver while Georgetown is constructing its new plant.

When contacted about the proposed $1.4-million loan, Lopp said he could not comment about it or the possible locations of an alternative site because the negotiations were still under way and because the agreement has not yet been brought before the county commissioners in a public meeting.

Georgetown Town Council President Billy Stewart confirmed the amount of financial backing indicated by Fox and added that the cost of moving the proposed plant to a different location will be around $1-1/2 million.

"If the county wants to move the plant," Stewart said, "it's our belief that they should pay the cost."

Stewart said he was open to compromise with the county and believed there was a way to build the plant to both benefit Georgetown and the county; however, he felt that the wastewater plant should ultimately serve Georgetown's needs first and that it wasn't the town's job to provide services to the rest of the county.

Stewart also said that the O'Brien property, the 23-acre piece of land to the east of Georgetown that has been the center of the dispute between the town and the county, has its place in the deal.

"If we do this (agreement)," Stewart said, "O'Brien would go to the county."

Stewart added that the property wouldn't be needed by the town if it gets an alternative site for the wastewater plant and that the agreement would basically come to a land "swap," where the town would get an alternative site for the plant and the county would get the O'Brien property. The financial details and implications of such a "swap" are still in negotiation.

As for where the site will be, Stewart couldn't say.

The agreement, he said, only calls for an alternative site "to the west of town." Floyd County and Georgetown do not have to declare an exact property before getting the agreement approved by all the bodies involved. Stewart said that after the agreement is finalized, the county will present the town with several different possible locations within that area.

The county wants the wastewater plant to be built to the west of town because of population projections and growth studies it conducted, Stewart said. The county's projections concluded that a plant to the west of town would be able to service and benefit the most people in the county, he said.

No matter what the county offers or where Georgetown chooses to build, Stewart said the ultimate decision will be left up to the State of Indiana, who has to approve any site chosen before building.

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