Tuesday, November 17th, 2009
By William Kincaid
East Jefferson residents to be connected to Celina sewer system
  An extensive $2.5 million infrastructure project could connect all remaining East Jefferson Township residents to the city of Celina's wastewater system.
But Celina city council members first must approve a contract with the Mercer County commissioners as an emergency ordinance in order to meet the county's deadline for federal stimulus money. According city officials, the contract must be approved before Dec. 10, when the county will open bids for the project.
Mercer County Community/Economic Development Director Jared Ebbing and Celina Planning and Community Development Director Kent Bryan went over the details of the proposed project with city council members on Monday night during a special meeting.
The collaboration between the city and county would connect 135 dwellings to the city's wastewater system.
Ebbing said the county successfully obtained a $1.05 million grant and a $1.45 million zero percent interest loan from the feds through stimulus funding.
The county plans on constructing the sewer line from the intersection of Riley Road and state Route 703 eastward to Anderson Road near the Mercer County Sportsmen Club.
"Short of water, we had to do something," Ebbing said, pointing out the county was approved for grant money for a sewer line, but not a water line.
The county, which will advertise for bids next week, would pay for construction of the line. It also would be responsible for operation and maintenance of a new collection system including lift stations, gravity sewers, force mains, grinder pump systems, low pressure force mains and other components.
The project includes constructing a new sewer system in the Northwood Drive area, according to Bryan.
Ultimately, the city would add one new customer to its system - Mercer County.
A master meter would be installed at a discharge station of the new sewer line to determine how much wastewater is processed, according to Ebbing. The county would be responsible for billing each new resident.
If all goes as planned, work should begin in February and be completed by the end of 2010, Ebbing said.
Once finished, all of East Jefferson would be connected to a wastewater system except for a small swath of land - about a half-mile from the county line - where there are currently no residential structures, according to Bryan.
In the future, if developed, the area in question could easily be connected to the system.
Both Bryan and Celina wastewater treatment plant Superintendent Kerry Duncan said Celina's wastewater system can handle the additional load, equivalent of an addition 5 percent.
"This is a good agreement in my opinion," Duncan said.
Currently, the city's facility can process a maximum of 3 million gallons of wastewater a day. In 2009, it peaked with an average of 2.2 to 2.3 million gallons a day.
Bryan said the additional wastewater would average around 40,000 gallons a day.
In order to move forward, council members must approve the contract as an emergency measure at the next council meeting at 7 p.m. Nov. 23.
"I'm up against the gun," Ebbing said about finalizing the contract in accordance with the federal stimulus deadline
When asked for a consensus, all council members - President Sophia Rodriguez, Myron Buxton, Mike Sovinski, Ed Jeffries, Angie King, June Scott, Bill Sell and Jeff Larmore - stated support for the project and passing it as an emergency measure at their next meeting.
"This has been on the drawing board for ... 30 years," Ebbing said about the project.
Sovinski agreed and said it would have been done in the 1980s if funding could have been secured.
Some of those at the meeting believe the addition of a wastewater line may spur development in the area.

County to be the one new customer:
The city of Celina is poised to take in additional revenue through its wastewater system if a new infrastructure project is completed in East Jefferson Township.
Essentially, the city would add only one new customer - Mercer County.
The county would be charged through a master meter attached to a discharge station of the new wastewater system, Mercer County Community/Economic Development Director Jared Ebbing said.
It would be the county's responsibility for charging and collecting payment from its residents and paying the city's monthly treatment service charge.
The county would be charged a treatment service rate based on 70 percent of the city's rural wastewater rates at the time of the project's completion plus any increases that become effective afterward.
Based on the city's current rate, the county would pay $6.34 per thousand gallons.
Currently, the city has 5 percent increases in wastewater rates scheduled for the first day in May and November until 2013.
Those living in East Jefferson also would have to pay an initial connection charge of $800 for each dwelling unit connected to the system.
According to Ebbing, all East Jefferson residents would help pay back the $1.45 million zero percent interest loan from the federal stimulus plan through an additional fee on their monthly bill.
The loan would be paid back over 20 years, he said.
- William Kincaid
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