drainage fee dropped

Wednesday, September 20, 2017 14:55 PM
Written by Stan Maddux
Category: Local News

A proposed $11.90 monthly fee for residential property owners to fund $35 million in drainage work in Michigan City has been dropped.

Mayor Ron Meer revealed he won't pursue the matter further after a vast majority of residents seemed against it judging by an outpouring of public response at four recent public meetings and through other methods like phone calls and social media.

''You got to have respect for that public hearing process. A lot of people believe nowadays that is a formality but we listen to what the public says,'' Meer said.

Meer said the focus now will be to explore alternative sources of revenue like federal and state grants for projects related to the environment to try and fund the work.

He said ways of freeing up casino money with much of it already dedicated for projects and other needs in the city will continue.

$35.70 a month would have been assessed on commercial properties, including churches and schools, and $83.30 on industries.

Driving the proposal was a desire to tap into a still unused eight foot wide storm sewer constructed a decade or so ago at 8th and Lafayette streets to provide relieve to flood prone neighborhoods mostly on the north side.

That work alone was estimated at $17 million.

Payments are still being made on funds borrowed to put in the $8 million dry storm sewer.

According to Michael Kuss, general manager of the Michigan City Sanitary District, said only a half million dollars a year in tax revenue strictly for routine storm water maintenance comes in, an amount that falls way short of what's really needed.

The drainage fee would have generated about $3 million a year, enough to secure financing to complete all of the targeted projects in five-years, he said.