Elkhart sewer proposals await committee review

The Elkhart sewer saga continues after Mayor Dick Moore's third proposal on how to charge businesses just outside of the city for service was sent to committee Monday night.

While Moore attended the meeting, he chose not to speak about the idea before the council.

Under the proposal, businesses who are now paying 75 percent of the city's tax rate would have that reduced to 35 percent. And, those paying close to zero would see an increase of 35 percent.

Moore says the ideas are inline with the recommendations of a citizens' task force, which looked into the sewer issues. He also says it will put Elkhart on par with other Indiana cities when it comes to future annexation.

But, Republican councilman David Henke says using assessed value hurts businesses.

He recently introduced an amendment that would instead charge a 15 percent user fee.

"I think the majority of the council is ready to go with a percentage of add-on fee as a sewer rate, but the mayor does have veto power if there's not six votes," Henke said. "I believe we have a 5-4, we do not have 6 at this point. So it actually could get vetoed and revert back to the original 75 percent structure."

Several business owners who would be impacted by the new compact agreement say they're frustrated with how long the controversy is dragging on. They want to know how much they'll be asked to pay and how it will impact their bottom lines.

"We are now seven, eight months into this battle still without an answer," said business owner Dave Schemenauer. "Valley View's now been 30 years without finding a good answer, resolution to it. And ,you do sit there and go, 'Now we have our mayor's third proposal.' And, you say, 'How many proposals do we actually have to have before this gets resolved?'"

Councilman Ron Troyer says the first committee meeting will be dedicated to examining the mayor's most recently proposed ordinance. Then, the council will compare it to the proposed amendments.

Troyer says the sewer issue has been discussed during at least 11 council meetings; he's hopeful they can reach a decision by the end of July.

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