County will pay tap-in fee for Ft. Jefferson sewer


By Ryan Berry

GREENVILLE — With the Village of Wayne Lakes working on its sewer development, the county is already looking to the future for an unincorporated part of the county that could tie into the system that feeds into New Madison’s sewer system. At their regular meeting on Thursday, July 13, Commissioners Matt Aultman, Marshal Combs and Larry Holmes entered into an agreement to pay a little over $600,000 tap-in fees to eventually add Fort Jefferson into the sewer system.

“We’re looking to a future expansion of sewer in the Village of Fort Jefferson,” said Aultman. “This was part of the original project when we were looking at the Wayne Lakes area. During that time process, the EPA pulled the Fort Jefferson piece away from the Wayne Lakes project because they saw it as two separate projects because of low- to moderate-income and the sources of funding that are out there.” Because Fort Jefferson is unincorporated it falls into the county’s jurisdiction.

Although there haven’t been any findings in the Ft. Jefferson area, it is being considered a distressed area by the Darke County Health Department due to failing septic systems.

Since New Madison has another project taking place, the village believes this would help with that project if the county could pay the tap-in fee early.

The tap-in fee is possible through a 40-year agreement with the USDA Rural Development Program and is paid on a yearly basis. The interest on the repayment is 1.125 percent. The county would pay the money upfront and then, as they have done with other unincorporated parts of the county, begin billing residents before the system is brought on-line in order to start paying back the debt or paying the loan off early.

Aultman said the county has been in contact with the Neave Township Trustees to let them know this is coming. The Fort Jefferson area is currently under a research and planning program for the area. As they continue to research and plan, a decision will be made on which houses and properties would be included in the sewer district. Aultman said the state gave a 100 percent grant to have the planning done and usually the funding for research and planning is a matching grant. He said this shows the seriousness of the state to get the Fort Jefferson project completed.

Once the research and planning is complete, the county will host public hearings with members of the community to explain the next steps in the process. The final steps would be to create the sewer district, bid the project out and go after funding sources.

Aultman expects the sewer district to be up and running in the next two to five years. “What the state’s goal is, through the EPA and other offices, is to connect smaller communities for sewage treatment – where there are large concentrations of houses,” said Aultman. He explained the Fort Jefferson project is coming to the top quicker than some of the other communities in Darke County because of its proximity to Wayne Lakes.

In other business, Darke County Auditor Carol Ginn shared with the Darke County Commissioners the proposed General Fund Budget for 2024.

Ginn’s estimated appropriations for the coming year is $40,058,644.23. The budget includes a 15 percent increase for health insurance and a three percent increase in the salary line. The county is required to submit a budget at the beginning of July. While the county will try to hold close to that figure, the actual figure will not be known until later this year when the county submits its appropriations.

Ginn did make a note that the Darke County South Industrial Park total interest free loan principle from the Ohio Water Development Authority will be $404,290.70 on Dec. 31. The amount of principle due in 2024 is $32,343.24. The county’s General Fund is supporting this loan. According to the agreement with Ohio Water Development, the loan cannot be paid off early.

To contact Daily Advocate Editor Ryan Berry, email [email protected].

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