Council decides to hold vote on acquiring some Allen County water, sewer residents until December

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According to Wirtz the areas in purple and pink would be impacted

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – One week after Fort Wayne City Council was presented with an opportunity to acquire customers with the Allen County Regional Sewer District the council has again passed the resolution until another meeting.

The bill up for discussion would give Fort Wayne the opportunity to acquire and enter into an agreement with the Allen County Regional Sewer District. This agreement would make the sewer district’s customers join Fort Wayne City Utilities.

Last week council chose to hold off the vote for another week only to postpone the vote for a second time.

“Fort Wayne sees itself just like NIPSCO or I&M, Fort Wayne City Utilities is a service provider,” said Matthew Wirtz, Fort Wayne City Utility deputy director of engineering. “We want to serve wherever we can. It’s not about representation.”

Fort Wayne City Utilities is the largest regional sewer district in Allen County. For years the water and sewer utility provider has provided treatment services for the Allen County Regional Sewer District.

According to Wirtz the areas in purple and pink would be impacted

The Allen County Regional Water & Sewer District Board of Trustees approved a Utility Acquisition Agreement at the August Board Meeting to transfer assets, debts, and operations of the District to Fort Wayne City Utilities. The transfer is expected to take effect at the end of 2021. This was never discussed with the city council prior to last Tuesday’s meeting.

If the city were to absorb the district, Allen County Commissioners and the Indiana Finance Authority Revolving Fund both agreed to pay $5 million each. The final $7 million would be paid by the city of Fort Wayne.

“This solution would lower rates for those residents in Allen County by $1.8 million,” director of Fort Wayne City Utilities Kumar Menon told Fort Wayne City Council at last Tuesday’s. “That money is going to stay local.”

Allen County Regional Sewer District covers residents throughout Allen County. During Menon and Wirtz’s presentation to the council last week, they said the change would directly impact more than 3,000 residents in independent political subdivisions. It will also impact more than 10,000 customers outside of Fort Wayne city limits.

“[The new services] will go up to county line road on the way to Auburn, up through Tonkel Road,” Wirtz said. “Customers even outside of Allen County in Wells County, Zanesville area all throughout Allen County. Currently, they are already connected to Fort Wayne City Utilities [but] it’s just a transfer. There will no longer be an Allen County sewer district in between.”

Wirtz says most customers will notice a rate decrease. However, for those customers formerly on Allen County Regional Sewer District, they will see a discount of at least $50 a month and a yearly decrease of $600.

“The concern is that the City of Fort Wayne should not be in control of development in the unincorporated areas of Allen County. There’s really a concern by this board being controlled by City Utilities, that City Utilities would be the de facto board and power for all unincorporated Allen County development,” said Councilman Russ Jehl (District 2).

Jehl added that the council has asked City Utilities to iron out those concerns because “it’s more than just an asset transaction.”

If the council does not approve the purchase, the future of the agreement and the customers impacted remains unclear.

Jehl said that the vote will be held in two weeks on Dec. 7.

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