How much water rates will rise in Sellersburg might depend on whether the town purchases a private water utility company.
A deal offered Monday would sell Riverside Water Co. for a purchase price of $2.5 million, including its assets, property and debts owed, to Sellersburg.
“It ain’t perfect, but it’s pretty darn good,” Chris Cotterill, attorney for David Stinson, owner of Riverside Water Co., said of the deal presented at the Sellersburg Town Council meeting. “I think you know what kind of investments you need to make in it and you get any number of benefits out of it. You’re taking a utility with no liabilities, you’re paying off the debt that Riverside owes your town, you’re already interconnected to the system — there’s no better owner of this utility than Sellersburg.”
Sellersburg Town Attorney Jake Elder explained that by buying the water company, Sellersburg would be able to set up a capital improvements fund, in addition to adding about 1,200 new customers. The town currently serves 3,400 water customers, according to Municipal Works Director Ken Alexander.
“You will not see 1,200 customers within the next 20 years,” Alexander said. “Our territory does not allow us to have that kind of growth.”
The purchase price would be amended into a $5 million bond sought by the town to make improvements to it’s water system and paid by water customers over the life of the bond, Elder said.
However, the potential purchase hit a snag: Removing a cellular tower located atop the Riverside Water Co. According to the deal presented, Riverside Water would retain the rights to the Sprint cellular service tower and the revenues throughout the terms of the contract, estimated at $138,238.
The contract is set to expire in 2020.
After some discussion, Town Council President Paul Rhodes asked for a change to the contract that would allow Sellersburg to take control of the Sprint assets on the water tower, including the revenue payments owed over the term of the contract with Riverside Water Co. The change was unanimously approved by the council.