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A literal and lateral godsend

An overhead display at Thursday’s White Estates sewer project meeting emphasizes a key point.

By DARREL RADFORD - dradford@thecouriertimes.com

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third article in a series about plans to solve the long-standing sewer issues in the White Estates Subdivision located south of New Castle and how a unique partnership between city, county and state officials hopes to solve it.

State government programs receive their fair share of criticism. Inefficiency and government of any kind are words that often go hand-in-hand. But if you live in the New Castle area subdivision known as White Estates, one particular state government program is a literal – and in this case, lateral – godsend.

The Indiana Finance Authority has granted the city a $4 million forgivable loan to help pay for a brand-new sewer system the 229 homes there desperately need. As a result, homeowners there will avoid monthly surcharges that could have been as high as $250 per month, according to Doug Baldessari, a certified public accountant with H.J. Umbaugh and Associates. Baldessari was one of the speakers at an informational meeting on the White Estates project held last Thursday at the Henry County Courthouse.

“Without that $4 million loan, the project is really not feasible,” Baldessari said.

Thanks to that loan, monthly bills for residents in the White Estates addition will be closer to the $100 per month level, depending on usage.

“An important part of all this is everybody has to connect,” Baldessari said. “The math doesn’t work without it.”

Mayor Greg York has called the project one of the state’s most unique. It is a team effort involving city, county and state officials, one that will provide a healthier environment. Raw sewage has been confirmed going into a stream near the White Estates area, resulting in a court order to solve the problem.

Baldessari said everyone has skin in the game, so to speak.

The county will pay $12,000 per year for 15 years for a total of $180,000.

The city will waive its connection fees for those users out there. That value is about $180,000.

The Indiana Finance Authority forgivable loan is $4 million.

Baldessarri said the city’s offer to waive connection fees was particularly significant to White Estates homeowners.

“Most of the costs to connect are included in the project costs,” Baldessarri said. “There are some connection costs that will have to be covered by the owner, but they certainly would not be between $10,000 and $15,000 that it might ordinarily take. The the city is waiving the connection fees to help keep costs down.”

Instead of the $10,000 to $15,000 connection fees, homeowners will more than likely only have between $400 and $1,200 in costs related to hooking on to the system. New Castle City Engineer Keith Bryant said the costs would vary, because every home there is unique, but said most should fall in that range.

Baldessari told the crowd last Thursday they were getting a big bang for their bucks – and an even bigger boost to the future quality of life in that neighborhood.

“Getting $4 million of free money and a 35-year interest free loan, I don’t see how you can do much better than that,” he said. “Without that loan, it really doesn’t work.”

In an upcoming issue of The Courier-Times, a former New Castle resident weighs in on the project and its benefits.