Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Compact strategy evolving
Posted on April 1, 2013 at 1:00 a.m.

ELKHART — On the surface, the Elkhart City Counicil’s meeting was full of pleasantries — compared to the past two meetings — as members continue to wade through the commercial sewer compact controversy.

Several people including business representatives thanked council president Ron Troyer on Monday, April 1, for his willingness to revisit the much-criticized policy that has caught the attention of industry, Elkhart County officials as well as state legislators.

Troyer announced a special committee would review the existing ordinance. No meeting date was set, but Troyer promised plenty of time would be given for the public to attend.

In addition to reviewing the existing ordinance, the council is expected to soon receive Mayor Dick Moore’s newest plan.

Moore is expected to submit a plan that will be known as a PILOT — Payment In Lieu Of Taxes — that calls for new formula that will be a decrease of the current compact fees.

But behind the scenes, a political give-and-take between Moore and the council continued to evolve.

Late last week, Troyer made plans in which he wanted to introduce an ordinance that would repeal the ordinance requiring commercial customers to shift to the city’s compact policy that is already adhered to by 63 companies.

However, Moore’s administration objected to that strategy, according to two city council members.

As a result, just hours before Monday’s meeting, Troyer agreed to drop that plan and embrace a new approach in which he establish a special committee of “council of the whole” that will “review issues related to the ordinance.”

While much of the difference sounds like semantics, it changes the council’s objective from one of possibly repealing the ordinance to one in which the council serves as a fact-finding body as it explores a long-term solution to a dispute that has embroiled city leaders for five months.

“We gotta work together,” Troyer said. “If that’s what makes them happy, I can go along with it. At the end of the day, we ended up in the same place.”

Arvis Dawson, assistant to the mayor, confirmed the adjustment was sought. Dawson said it was an effort “to make sure everything was legal.”

Meanwhile, two business representatives and a council member applauded Troyer’s plan.