GOSHEN — A Nappanee couple that met income requirements for a cost share program to help pay for a new septic system was denied funding after Elkhart County officials learned that the husband and wife were building a $240,000 home.
The Elkhart County Stormwater Management Board reviewed an application Monday, Aug. 26, from Nathan and Marilyn Troyer for the county’s illicit discharge cost share program designed to help homeowners and nonprofit organizations replace or repair failing septic systems. The couple applied for funding for new septic equipment for a six-bedroom home they are constructing at 25178 C.R. 50 in Nappanee.
Financial support from the county’s cost share program is based on annual income. Homeowners who earn $50,000 or less each year qualify for up to $5,000 or half of the cost to replace a septic system. Applicants, such as the Troyers, who earn between $50,000 and $75,000 can have up to 25 percent, or a maximum of $2,500, of the cost covered through the program. Nonprofit groups with an annual income of $50,000 or less are eligible to receive as much as $10,000, or up to half of the cost of the system.
Stormwater board members Blake Doriot, Frank Lucchese and Terry Rodino voted to deny funding to the Troyers after seeing photos of the 3,680-square-foot home under construction.
“Let’s do the neighbor test,” Doriot said before the vote. “If I walked out and showed this picture to my neighbor and said, ‘Do you think we should give them $2,500 for a septic system,’ they would go, ‘What the heck for?’ Guaranteed.”
Mike Yoder was the only board member to vote against denying funding to the Troyers because, he pointed out, they meet the program’s minimum standards for annual income.
“It appears that he doesn’t need $2,500,” Yoder said. “It appears that way from the house that he’s building, but the tax form indicates that he meets our criteria.”
The county’s cost share program is supported by the county’s stormwater fees. Homeowners with residential properties in Elkhart, Goshen, Bristol and unincorporated parts of the county pay $15 annually with their property taxes. Non-residential landowners pay $15 for every 3,600 square feet of hard surface each year.