The Town of Winamac has taken a step forward with its sewer rate increase. An ordinance raising the sewer rate by six percent was introduced during Monday’s town council meeting.
Accounting firm Umbaugh and Associates says the increase will provide the necessary debt service coverage to refinance the Wastewater Department’s 2008 bonds. That could lead to a cost savings of about $500,000 for the town over the next 12 years. An ordinance authorizing the town to issue the refunding bonds was also introduced Monday. Final approval of both ordinances is expected next month.
Also factoring into the decision to raise sewer rates was the expectation of new ammonia limits on the town’s wastewater facilities. Town Manager Brad Zellers told council members Monday that the limits are indeed being included as part of the town’s permit renewal process with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. “Yes, we do have ammonia limits,” he said. “No, we can’t get anywhere close, probably, to the limit. We’re quite a ways off for the limit they’ve given us. We’re high, quite a bit.”
He says he plans to request that IDEM delay the requirement until the next permit cycle in five years. Otherwise, the town has 36 months from this September to get in compliance, and the town would have to provide IDEM with a plan for doing so within 14 months from September.
Zellers says he’s already considering options, “There are a couple companies that make some pretty neat stuff that’s new technology. I was going to call one of them to see if they’d do a study and put it in there, letting us just see what it does. We’ve been fortunate in the past to have several places do some studies and it didn’t cost us a dime and it benefited us. Now, at the end of that study, yes, we may have to purchase that equipment, but we’d know going into it that it worked.”
Zellers has previously estimated that the potential upgrade would cost the Town of Winamac between $500,000 and $1 million.