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G'town plans to drop sewer rates Monday


July 06, 2011
The talk of sewer rate decreases has made the rounds of the Georgetown community since the town focused on building a new wastewater treatment plant. Last month, town officials held a public hearing on plans to do just that.

Georgetown residents have complained about what they called "excessively high" sewer bills for years. But the town's hands were tied due to a contract with New Albany to treat its wastewater. That contract was the direct result of state regulations concerning septic tanks several years ago. Most of the town's homes and businesses used septic tanks to dispose of sewage and wastewater. When the state demanded changes, Georgetown was hard-pressed financially to work toward a solution such as a new sewage treatment plant.

The city of New Albany came to the rescue when a contract was approved to treat Georgetown's wastewater. No agreement was made to handle solids, which stayed in the septic tanks, and the town pumped those out periodically and trucked the solids to a disposal site. That arrangement was in place for several years as Georgetown tried numerous approaches to building its own wastewater treatment plant.

That new plant became a reality this spring after Georgetown bought a parcel of land behind the Georgetown Truss Co. on the west side of town and completed construction of its new facility. The plant went online several weeks ago.

At the hearing, there was no vocal opposition to reducing sewage rates. In fact, members of the audience who spoke at the meeting had nothing but praise for the work the town council has done.

"I'm impressed and thrilled to see what you guys have accomplished," one resident told the board.

"I just wanted to get up and tell you guys, you and the board have done a fine job in the last 2-1/2 years," another man said.

The town council will vote on the rate reduction at the next monthly board meeting, which will be Monday.

Billy Stewart, town board president, said there will be a reduction of 26 percent on the basic sewer bill.

"A lot of our residents, about 125, are older people," Stewart said. "And most of them only use between 300 and 1,000 gallons a month. They will see the largest decrease. So, this will help them the most. Everything, including water, sewer, garbage pickup and storm water is itemized on one bill. We're already lower on storm water than any other town in the area, $1 a month. Now, we just have the sewer line work on the southeast quadrant left to do, which should cost about $500,000 to $540,000, and we'll be able to pay cash for that work. We'll be taking bids for that at our next meeting."

Those who use more than 1,000 gallons per month will see a decrease in their rates as well, but those reductions won't be as significant.

"If we can lower sewer rates, then we should," Mike Mills, council member, said. "But, I just hope we won't find out we have to raise them again."

"It's great to see the treatment plant completed," Aaron Striegel, council member, said. "All of us should be proud to have been a part of this achievement."

"You have to hire competent people to do the job," Stewart added. "We hired professionals, like Umbaugh Associates. I wish the rates could go down more, but we didn't come up with the numbers; we had professionals do that. Our new plant was built with a 20-year capacity, so, if a developer shows up with plans to build, we can handle it. We've squeezed every penny till it squealed, and it's paid off. We were told we were wasting our time trying to find federal funds, yet we found $3.5 million of stimulus money. We were told that we couldn't work with Floyd County — but we did — and we now have a great working relationship with them. There's been a lot of meetings and a lot of heated words, but we kept plugging along, and it's paid off."

"It's been a difficult couple of years," town attorney D.A. Andrews said. "Now, we can turn to more quality-of-life issues. We restrained from wasting even a penny so there would be dollars left at the end of the process and not squandered. So, now we have enough to finish the work on the southeast quadrant. We've kept our eyes on the ball, and I can't say how proud I am to have served this council."

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