Elkhart County will contribute $500,000 toward a project aimed at fixing water and sewage problems in the Kercher Orchard Subdivision just outside of Goshen.
The funds were granted in a 3-1 vote Monday, July 28, by the Elkhart County Stormwater Management Board, which includes county commissioners Terry Rodino, Mike Yoder and Frank Lucchese and Elkhart County Surveyor Blake Doriot, who opposed the decision.
Failing septic systems in the area over the past two decades have caused sewage to seep from the ground and wash into the Elkhart River and Dam Pond, according to the city of Goshen’s website.
The project, which could be underway as early as the spring of 2015, would annex the subdivision into the City of Goshen and provide those properties with city water and sewer services.
The project can’t move forward until it has the petitioned support of a majority of property owners, among other criteria.
The total project loan is estimated at around $8 million including interest. Most of the money will go toward construction and engineering.
Kercher Orchard residents would pay back about $5.4 million of the loan through a funding option — property owners within a defined area would share the cost of a project.
The county’s contribution means each of the subdivision’s 283 households would pay around $115 per month for the next 20 years.
Glenn Stutzman, a resident who presented the proposal on behalf of the subdivision, initially requested a $1 million upfront contribution from the county and an additional $100,000 on an annual basis for the next 20 years.
After some debate over how much to contribute, Yoder motioned to give a one-time contribution of $750,000, which didn’t get any support from the board.
He then motioned to give $500,000, which got approval from all but Doriot, who said he would’ve liked to have more information ahead of time.
“Maybe I’m old fashioned. I mean, this is the taxpayers’ money,” he said.
Rodino, though, underscored the need to move quickly on the project.
“The longer this waits, it’s not going to get any better,” he said.
The city of Goshen has already contributed $1.5 million to the project. The stormwater management board’s $500,000 contribution is in addition to $250,000 pledged at a prior meeting.