Elkhart Sewer Dispute: Mayor announces new ordinance - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Elkhart Sewer Dispute: Mayor announces new ordinance

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The sewer squabble in Elkhart took another turn Thursday.  Mayor Dick Moore announced the findings of a task force set up to examine the dispute.  The group "studied issues revolving around the expiration of 15-year Sewer Service Agreements, and their transition to PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) fees for services provided to businesses and residents outside the city limits of Elkhart" according to a release sent by Mayor Moore's office.

The mayor announced two requests going forward.  First he wants the current compact fee lowered.  "The current compact fee should be dramatically lowered," he says.  The mayor says according to his proposed ordinance, businesses paying virtually zero now, will gradually begin paying the 35% rate.  Those paying at the 75% rate, will have their fees reduced to 35%.

Secondly, Moore will introduce an annexation ordinance at the Elkhart Common Council meeting on June 17th.  "It is time for the city to begin the next step to annex the utility customers currently located outside the corporate boundaries as originally intended," he says. 

Dave Schemeanauer, owner of Marshall Home and Garden, has been following the dispute over sewer fees for months.  He takes issue with the mayor's PILOT fees.  "Mr. Moore calling this not a city tax or not a tax is kind of the equivalent of somebody peeing on your leg and telling you 'Oh well it's just a summer shower,'" Schemeanauer says.  "It is a tax.  You can call it whatever you want, but it is an illegal tax."

Schemeanauer is also reacting to the mayor's request to reduce the compact fee. "His equation of, 'look this isn't bad.'  Take a look at somebody who is beating their wife twice a week and [they] 'say well I'm now only beating her once a week.'  Is it still acceptable?"

Mayor Moore says his proposal aims to achieve a fair solution.  "My commitment to the citizens of Elkhart is a fair and equitable solution to the expiring agreements, both for those living within the city limits, and our neighbors living just outside the city.  I think the ordinance will meet that commitment," Moore says. 

 

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