Wyatt residents face sewer hook up fees

Residents of Wyatt are being forced to pour money ‘down the drain,’ now that a new sewer system is under construction.

“I don’t have that long of a run to the hook up, but it’s 15-hundred bucks,” said Wyatt resident Clint Schlarb. “I’ve been laid off since April.”

The construction of the sewage collection system itself is largely being paid for by a federal grant. The grant from USDA Rural Development covers 75-percent of the cost. That means Wyatt will spend $300-thousand on a sewer system worth $1.4 million.

‘Our consultants who are working on this with us have never seen a project be so inexpensive to the average homeowner as this project is,” said St. Joseph County Regional Sewer and Water District Board Member Dr. Jason Marker.

Yet, the arrangement largely leaves homeowners—on their own—when it comes to covering the costs of tapping into the system.

“The county, they got their grants for the project but seems like the people here in town were left out of it,” said Schlarb. The current project schedule gives homeowners a deadline of April 2010 to hook up to the new system. “Well, I’m worried about how actually people are going to pay, and if we’re not able to pay on time, what happens then? Do they take our homes, do they fine us?”

“It seems to me there have been stones that haven’t been unturned and that shouldn’t be the case,” said Ind. Rep. Jackie Walorski, a Republican from Jimtown. She wants the sewer district to file an application for possible assistance from the State of Indiana.

“I’m certainly willing to go and beat on the Lt. Governor’s door and make those funds available to the people in Wyatt, but the St. Joseph County Regional Sewer District has to make the application; But nobody can make it for them, and I can’t certainly supersede them,” Walorski said.

Dr. Marker took issue with the contention that the sewer and water board didn’t work hard enough for homeowners. “There have been some people who have said that there’s more that we could have done, that is just simply not the case.”

Yet, the district will do more. It will apply to the State of Indiana for Community Development Block Grant monies—something it considered months ago.

“We’re continuing right now to relook at programs that already we know are not appropriate in the hopes that one of our elected officials can help us force that through down in Indianapolis somehow,” said Dr. Marker.

Months ago, Wyatt residents were given information about a federal loan program that could help offset the costs of sewer hook ups. Only two of Wyatt’s 70-homeowners submitted applications. One of those applications was approved.

At this point, homeowners are being encouraged to fill out applications for both programs.


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