ELKHART — The city of Elkhart has announced details of its first of four rounds of annexation in conjunction with attempts to resolve the ongoing sewer dispute.
Mayor Dick Moore announced Wednesday, Oct. 9, the city will initially seek to annex four areas and will submit the requests to the city council in November.
The annexation push comes as the city council continues to seek a resolution to the protracted sewer dispute.
If approved, the annexation would mark the first step toward significantly phasing out the much-maligned compact sewer policy.
The four areas include 60 commercial customers that use city utilities and an equal number that are not connected to city utilities.
The total assessed value of the properties is about $80 million and is expected to generate about $1.5 million in property tax revenues annually beginning in 2016, according to a statement issued by the mayor’s office.
The first round of annexations include:
Property north of the airport and west of C.R. 5. Most of the property falls between the two roads plus two tract east of C.R. 5.
Property near C.R. 6 and C.R. 15. That includes property northwest, southwest and southeast of the intersection.
Property along C.R. 17 south of Middlebury Street. That includes property south to the U.S. 20 interchange.
Property around Borg Road and Pierina Drive east of Johnson Street. It includes much of the property on both sides of the roads and land surrounding Fall Creek Way farther to the east.
Moore said he wants to use some of the additional revenues to upgrade and expand infrastructure within three years of annexation.
Some of the targeted areas include residential properties.
While Moore has said residential annexation is not a priority, he has said the city would include residential property if the land were surrounded by other areas annexed by the city.
The administration and almost all of the city council agree that annexation is a key part of the solution.
Moore, who is waiting for the city council to act on his latest sewer proposal, has vowed an aggressive annexation plan that goes hand-in-hand with resolving the commercial sewer dispute. But Moore’s annexation plan is not directly tied to his sewer plan.
The sewer dispute began about ten months ago after the city attempted to shift about 75 companies to the compact policy, which charges customers an extra fee based on assessed value. Opponents of the compact sewer policy believe it is financially onerous and Moore recently announced a plan to phase out the compact policy in favor of a surcharge based on usage.
About 138 commercial sewer customers outside of the city have been on the compact policy or were in the midst of being shifted to the compact policy when the sewer dispute arose earlier this year.
The compact policy has been in existence for nearly 15 years and was originally established as a short-term step before those customers were annexed into the city. However, city leaders never followed through with that plan and revenues from the compact fees have been used for years to fund various aspects of city government.
Moore’s latest sewer plan would phase out compact fees by 2018.