SHEPHERDSVILLE - The hopes of extending a sewer line south of the city limits and expanding its current treatment plant met with a major roadblock Monday night.
After looking since last August at a project to bring service to places such as the Jim Beam Distillery in Clermont and the proposed community and technical college on Highway 245, Shepherdsville city councilmembers somberly announced Monday that the $20 million project was dead.
In the last of many executive sessions, the council discussed the matter for just over an hour.
“The mayor, council, city employees and other interested individuals have spent countless hours working in a good faith effort to meet the budgetary constraints with which we are faced,” city attorney Bill Wilson read from a prepared statement. “Despite our best efforts, we have not been able to meet the demands of the project.”
The decision puts into question planned improvements at Jim Beam, including the new $15 million visitors center, and at a city sewer plant that was running at 92 percent capacity.
“This project is not dead,” said mayor Sherman Tinnell. “We just haven’t been able to make the numbers work.”
The mayor said the city is willing to talk with the interested parties once again to see if there is something that could be done
“The city has gone as fare as we could go,” said Tinnell.
A major concern from the beginning was the desire to not increase sewer rates for city residents to pay for the project. Tinnell said that was still a concern.
He’s not sure there might not be additional capacity at the current sewer plant.
Councilman Larry Hatfield, who worked with fellow board member Alan Wetzel, on a committee to look at the situation, said the town board favors the project. However, the shortfall between the revenue generated and the annual bond payments was still too far apart.
“The numbers are just not there,” said Hatfield. “There’s no one on this council who wants this to die.”
Coming back into office in January, Hatfield felt there may have been a simpler route to get the project completed. But, at this stage, he said any suggestions would be helpful.
Like the mayor, Hatfield isn’t sure the current sewer plant, which has won numerous state awards for its operation, is in need of an expansion.
“Jim Beam has done its part,” said Hatfield. “But that’s just too much area to run sewer lines right now.”
From the council’s standpoint, the revenue issue was still very sketchy, said Hatfield.
“Everything was based on a lot of ‘ifs,’” said Hatfield. “There weren’t a whole of guarantees.”
Without moving forward, the city is still faced with engineering expenses and other fees approaching $1 million.
Earlier in the meeting, representatives of the Bullitt County Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Development Authority and the Shepherdsville-Bullitt County Tourist and Convention Commission were present.
They brought a joint resolution voicing their support, especially with plans to build a community college in the area and with the start of the Bourbon Trail tourist attraction.
In a joint request to the governor’s office, the city had a $10 million request in the economic stimulus plan, if federal dollars are made available.
This is the second major project which hasn’t panned out for Shepherdsville in the past year.
A $5 million bond issue was proposed to run a road from Preston Highway next to the Bullitt County Detention Center to somewhere on Beech Grove Road.
When the industrial development project stalled, the city opted to not pursue the connector road. Instead, the city is working on other options to alleviate some of the congestion on Beech Grove Road.