Jan. 25—GOSHEN — In a 4-3 vote, the Goshen City Council tabled until Feb. 6 a vote on a stormwater user fee Monday night.
The Greater Elkhart County Stormwater Partnership MS4 Advisory Board has recommended a user fee increase over three phases. The first year — this year if passed before March 1 — would be $22.05 per year per equivalent residential unit; $29.10 in 2026; and $36.10 in 2029. The numbers were based on a rate study completed by Baker Tilly US LLP.
The MS4 (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System) Advisory Board consists of Goshen, Elkhart County, Elkhart and Bristol. The increase would allow Goshen to work on drainage issues, plus improve stormwater runoff management, add more water level monitoring, maintenance, cleaning, street sweeping and disposal of collected debris.
Council member Don Riegsecker said he did not feel the timing was right to pass this fee increase. He said the increase for residences would be $7 for the whole year, so he's not too worried about that.
However, manufacturing would be more impacted.
Assessments are going up, he pointed out. Most residences are going to be under the 1% tax rate cap; multifamily should be OK with the 2% cap; but manufacturing will be hit as it has a 3% cap, Riegsecker said.
"Now is not the time to be hitting the manufacturing sector," he said.
Council member Julia King asked if Riegsecker took into consideration the high profits manufacturers have made the past few years.
He said no. And it's not that he was opposed to the increase, he said, but that the timing is not right.
"If we can change the date, I'm all in," Riegsecker said.
None of the other three partners have voted for the rate increase as of Monday.
Council president Brett Weddell said he feels the County Council is trying to force Goshen to make a decision first.
Goshen's Stormwater Coordinator Jason Kauffman, who has been working on the increase for about 10 months, said that ordinance for the rate increase will go away if all of the parties do not approve it.
"You've made your case," King told Kauffman, and suggested that Goshen take the lead in this matter.
Council member Doug Nisley agreed with Riegsecker that now was not the right time and made the motion to table.
Voting to table were Nisley, Riegsecker, Matt Schrock and Brett Weddell. Voting no were Megan Eichorn, King and Gilberto Perez.
The city of Goshen will reimburse Michael Burk $491.22 for fill dirt to help repair yard damage created by road work.
The project was located at Douglas Avenue and Reynolds Street. Burk explained that he and his neighbor did the work to repair the damage. He said Northern Indiana Public Service Co. would not address it. Other neighbors along the street also had damage, he said.
Mayor Jeremy Stutsman told Burk at Monday night's City Council meeting that he will be in touch about the reimbursement.
The council adopted a confirmatory resolution for the creation of a new housing area tax increment finance district within the Southeast Economic Development Area.
This residential TIF district, a first for the city, is about 170 acres, south of Regent Street, west of Dierdorff Road and north of Waterford Mills Parkway. It is currently farmland, but a housing development, Cherry Creek, has been proposed for the area.
During a community meeting about the project in December, Redevelopment Director Becky Hutsell explained that this would be a mixed-use development with potential housing types including single family homes, duplexes, townhomes and condominiums. The current estimate is construction of about 1,400 new housing units built over two phases, with about 940 built in the first phase and 480 in the second.
Council members appointed the following people: Pete Weddell and Joshua Munson, Board of Building Appeals; Sharon Beechy, Community Relations Commission; Ryan Smith, Shade Tree Board; Andrea Johnson and Brett Weddell, Redevelopment Commission.
Mayor Stutsman said the city intends to open a recycling center before the last county recycling center in the city at Martin's is shut down at the end of March. The city's recycling center is on Indiana Avenue between the Oak Ridge Cemetery and the city's sewer treatment plant.
The reason the county has closed its recycling centers is because people cannot respect the rules, Stutsman said. The city will try and educate people beforehand about those rules and there will be cameras at the site. A fining system will be implemented for violators.
"I beg people to respect it," Stutsman said.
The concrete pads are already in place. Next will be a request for proposals to bid for pickup service.
Sheila Selman can be reached at email@example.com or 574-533-2151, ext. 240311. Follow Sheila on Twitter @sselman_TGN.