GOSHEN — Nonprofit groups that have residential quarters in Elkhart County can now get help to replace or fix failing septic systems.
The county’s stormwater board voted Monday, March 25, to allow nonprofit organizations to apply for a cost-share program that has traditionally only been open to homeowners.
Based on their income, residents can receive up to $5,000 to replace a septic system at their home in an effort to reduce illicit runoff and improve water quality in the county’s streams, rivers and lakes. The stormwater board granted $10,000 to the Rose Home in November, the first nonprofit group to apply for the cost-share program. The Rose Home is a recovery program in the southern part of the county for women with substance abuse issues.
“We may never see another one of these again, but if we do, at least we have some rules to go by,” said Terry Rodino, president of the county commissioners and member of the stormwater board.
To qualify for the program, a nonprofit organization must provide financial statements and a tax exempt identification number along with their completed application form, which would be reviewed by a county environmentalist. The organization must be located in an unincorporated part of the county, and the building served by the septic system must be primarily residential.
Nonprofit groups that have an annual income of $50,000 or less are eligible to have up to half of the cost, or up to $10,000, covered by the county. The program will pay for 25 percent, or up to $5,000, for organizations that have a yearly income between $50,000 to $75,000.
The cost share program is funded by the county’s stormwater fees. Homeowners in the county are charged an annual fee of $15 with their property taxes, and landowners with non-residential properties are charged $15 for every 3,600 square feet of hard surface, like paved parking areas, walkways and rooftops.