Tonight's meeting lasted about 2 1/2 hours with a lot of talk and not much progress.
I was not present for the sewer board meeting at 4:00 but the main topics were briefly explained in the 6:00 meeting with the City Council. All of the council members were present and everyone expressed their opinion. Some more loudly than others.
At the beginning; Mr. Malysz discussed a memo from the Mayor which stated that the Administration is in the process of talking with EMC about terminating their contract as soon as possible instead of letting it continue until 2012. Mr. Ceasar suggested that a Sewer Board member and a Council member be included in these meetings so everyone can stay updated on the progress. Mr. Malysz seemed to agree.
Mr. Skomp of Crowe Horwath kept telling the council that time is running out and the city needs to act now! He and Mr. Fifer, sewer board attorney, kept stating that the city is in dire straits and we need to accept the offer from SRF (State Revolving Financing). In essence the state is offering to re-negotiate our bond interest rate from around 3.9% to 2.5%. He said if we don't hurry and sign the agreement the EPA will take over our sewer utility and charge whatever rate they want. Scary stuff.
I feel that we are being rushed but then I remember that the firm of Crowe Horwath was hired by "us" and so their loyalty should be to us. In other words they should have our best interest at heart.
There were nine citizens who spoke at the podium with various messages:
David Andrews from Georgetown said that the New Albany Council has a difficult job setting rates for citizens who vote for them, and added that Georgetown has committed to the 36% rate increase.
Cat McDaniel, a 30 year New Albany resident and businessman said that the city is delaying in fixing the problem because it is cheaper to hire a consultant. He added that previous councils did not make the hard decisions and raise rates gradually.
Nancy Morton a resident in the County Line Rd. area said that she and her neighbors have cut back as much as possible.
Vicki Denhart, a New Albany resident, asked Mr. Skomp where his company got their numbers for their report. He replied that they did a review but not a full audit because it was not necessary. She added that EDIT and TIF funds should be used, and that a forensic audit was needed. She also stated that tap in fees and permit fees should be raised so the developers would pay their fair share.
Steve Schmeltz said he always complied with rate increases and purchased necessary sump pumps, etc. but this rate is just ridiculous. He asked where the funds had gone, and that millions of dollars had gone for naught.
Marilyn White, a resident of Powder House Lane, was confused because she pays her water bill to Edwardsville and her sewer bill to New Albany. She also has a flat rate rather than a rate based on consumption. Mr. Fifer and the sewer board promised to look into the matter.
Kay Hartman owns apartment houses in New Albany and said that if she ran her business like the city officials run New Albany she would have been out of business years ago.
Greg Reitz questioned why a household of three people would have a $70.00 sewer bill.
These people are just examples of the population and how distraught everyone is.
I don't want my sewer bill raised either, but I don't think EDIT should be used to pay to keep the rates from being raised. That would unfairly raise the rate for the taxpayers and not the businesses. Kroger, Walmart, Target, Kmart etc. do not pay EDIT. Taxpayers may lose their jobs and therefore EDIT would go down but these big stores are here to stay. Let's let them pay their fair share of the sewer bill. Yes, I know the fee would be passed on to the shoppers, but we can control how much we shop but we can't control how much of our taxes go to pay for sewer bills. I also agree that tap in fees should be raised. Yes I know the developers will pass this along to the home buyer but everything else is included in the price of a home, such as materials, so the price of a new home may be affected but not by a great amount.
Bottom line, the residents of New Albany and the fringe areas are doing the best they can. People can only cut back so far.