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Committee tries to save sewer plans

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By The Staff

SHEPHERDSVILLE - In its current state, the planned sewer plant expansion and sewer line extension isn’t passing the smell test for Shepherdsville city officials.

But instead of throwing the planned $18 million project out with the trash, a committee will hope to salvage the project.

Meeting in executive session for the past couple of months, Shepherdsville officials addressed rumors that the planned expansion of its sewer plant and extension of a line to southern Bullitt County was dead.

Mayor Sherman Tinnell said his first priority was to serve the people who live in the city limits and who would be hurt by any increase in sewer rates.

His second concern would be to look at ways to grow.

“My top priority is to take care of the people in the city,” said Tinnell. “So many can’t afford these add-ons.”

He supports the project but he knows that recent figures show that there is a $500,000 shortfall between projected revenue and the debt service on the bond issue.

Tinnell said that if the line extension can’t be done, the sewer plant expansion would be completed.

He appointed councilmembers Larry Hatfield and Alan Wetzel to a committee to look if the entire project could be completed.

“This thing has got to be settled,” said Tinnell.

Hatfield said something must be done. He wanted to dispel rumors.

“This project is not dead,” said Hatfield. “We know the plant will need to be expanded.”

According to sewer plant supervisor Mike Schroeder, the plant runs at least 90 percent of capacity. During rain events, the 2.2 million plant far exceeds that capacity.

City attorney Bill Wilson said Shepherdsville is under the direction of the state to reduce infiltration through a consent order. There are no agreements signed with anyone to hook onto the system in the southern extension area.

That lack of written agreements is another reason for concern, said Wilson.

Hatfield is confident the project can be salvaged.

“I think it can be done,” said Hatfield. “I think we can pull this together.”

Part of that agreement might mean that the plans might need to be scaled back, according to Hatfield.

The biggest concern is finding enough revenue to cover the annual bond payments of $1.2 million. At this point, the guaranteed revenue is about $500,000 short and that doesn’t include the normal daily costs to operate the facility, said Hatfield.

The councilman said he understands that Jim Beam Distillery is anxious for a decision and he hopes the committee can quickly get something together.

“It is very critical that this gets done,” said Hatfield. “You’ve got to be able to pay for it.”

Hatfield said he couldn’t guarantee that either of the projects could be done without rate increases in the future.

In answer to a question from the audience, Hatfield said sewer service would be needed for the proposed community and technical college planned for the Interstate 65/Highway 245 interchange. The southern extension would provide that service.

Steve Plenge said he understood the councilmenbers wanting to get the proper figures before making a decision.

And he understood that no one wanted to see sewer rates increase.

His fear was that if the city did nothing, it would be coming back in a year facing the same issues with higher costs and the need for a larger increase.

Daryl Lee inquired whether the capacity at the sewer plant was based on actual numbers or on the number of building lots that have been approved.

Schroeder said the flow figures are true. But he said the plant has been able to handle new hook-ons and there is no state ban on new services.

Previously, the city approved an $18 million bond issue for the project.

The next meeting of the Shepherdsville City Council will be on Monday, Feb. 9, at 6:30 p.m. at city hall. The public is invited to attend.