News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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April 15, 2014

Funding glitch delaying North 6th Street drainage project

Work set to start next month on sewer extension under Indiana 46

TERRE HAUTE — Lack of funding will delay the second phase of a drainage project along North Sixth Street at Eighth Avenue.

The project extends curbs and storm drainage improvements for an area near Union Hospital.

“We had expected payments from the wastewater [utility] to fund the sanitary project, but sewer collections are down,” Terre Haute Engineer Chuck Ennis told the Terre Haute Board of Sanitary Commissioners on Tuesday.

The sanitary district lacks the needed $300,000 to complete the drainage project this year, unless funds are available by early summer.

City Comptroller Leslie Ellis told sanitary commissioners the wastewater utility’s collections are $3 million below anticipated collections. The cause is a change to a billing system that is different from the one that had been used by Indiana American Water Co., Ellis said.

The water company, which in 2011 announced it was dropping its sewer system billing service, provides client billing coding to TPI Billing Solutions, a Tulsa, Okla-based that sends and collects sewer bills for the city.

“Our vendor had to change its coding system and we lost some billing,” Ellis said. “We are working to recoup this and some people are receiving several months of bills” while other people are not paying the past sewer bills, Ellis said.

“In many cases, people did not get a bill, so we are working with customers such as apartment owners,” Ellis said.

The city’s sewer rates, Ellis said, will increase July 1, and that increase will help make up some lost revenue. The city’s sewer billing should be fully back on track from June to December, Ellis said.

In another issue, the board awarded S&G Excavating at $424,880 contract to run a sanitary sewer line east under Indiana 46, near a First Financial Bank branch, then north to a site where a new Meijer store is to be constructed on the east side of Indiana 46.

That work is expected to start in a month and be completed in 90 days, Ennis said.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com.

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