News and Tribune

March 7, 2013

Jeffersonville drainage board owes Kroger nearly $60,000

Gas station was over-billed for seven years

By BRADEN LAMMERS
braden.lammers@newsandtribune.com

JEFFERSONVILLE — Two payments were at the heart of the discussion by the city’s Drainage Board Tuesday night.

One claim was a somewhat minimal request for the board to split the cost of a TV purchased for its meeting room. The second claim, however, saw the board on the hook for refunding nearly $60,000 to a local business. 

“We evidently have over-billed Kroger for the last ... seven years I think,” said board member Grant Morton. “I don’t know how that happened.”

According to the report offered to the board, the Kroger gas station in front of the grocery store on 10th Street was being charged the equivalent of 20 acres of commercial property.

As a result, the gas station was being charged about $855 per month — or about $10,600 per year. The total the city overcharged Kroger over a seven-year period — and which is owed in repayment — is $59,569.

“This property was mismeasured,” said Deb Ashack, the city’s stormwater coordinator.  “The calculations that were done originally were based on erroneous measurements. Other properties may be equally erroneous. I’m not saying they’re over-paying or under-paying, it just emphasizes the need for the drainage board to move forward with accurately measuring the impervious surface at all non-residential properties. This is a very expensive lesson,” she said.

Commercial properties, including multi-family dwellings, are charged based on the amount of impervious surface on the properties. All single-family, residential properties are charged a flat rate of $3.50 per month.

Drainage Board Attorney Scott Lewis said the refund to Kroger has already been approved by the city’s sewer billing office and the statute of limitations allows the company to go back seven years to challenge the amount it was being charged.

“This would definitely be a claim they would win in a court of law,” he said.

 

PAYMENT REQUEST DRAWS DEBATE

Another payment requested of the drainage board also stirred up some debate.

A request for the board to pay one-third of the costs for a TV purchased for the mayor’s conference room in Jeffersonville City Hall was presented Tuesday. The total cost to the drainage board equals $706.

But questions about why the drainage board was being asked to pay for one-third of the costs after the TV had already been purchased were raised.

“I don’t mind helping out with something before it’s purchased, but I disagree with coming to us after the fact and requesting it,” said Board Member Steve Gill.

Mayor Mike Moore purchased the TV in order to have a way to display images and plans in the room during meetings  — a request also made of several redevelopment commission members. The mayor’s conference room is a regular meeting location for the city’s redevelopment commission, sewer board and drainage board, among other groups.

As a result, the three entities were asked to share in the $2,119 cost of the television. The sewer board and redevelopment commission have already approved their portion of the costs.

“We haven’t got a bill yet ... we haven’t got a claim yet that’s been submitted,” Morton said.

A motion to table the payment until the drainage board was presented with a claim that outlines what the claim is for and the cost for the TV was approved 7-1, with Gill voting against.

 

AMERICA PLACE

Drainage plans for construction of the first building of a new America Place site being built in River Ridge Commerce Center were approved.

The first building on a 38-acre site in River Ridge is expected to be a warehouse and office space totaling 150,000 square feet.

Debbie Smith, manager of America Place, said in a previous report the Jeffersonville business park plans to build between three and four industrial distribution warehouse buildings at its River Ridge Commerce Center location.

Another planned building will also be about 150,000-square-feet, expandable up to 200,000-square-feet. A third and possibly fourth building are also planned, depending upon the size of the structure. Smith said the company will either construct two 200,000-square-foot distribution warehouses or a single 400,000-square-foot distribution warehouse.

America Place also maintains an 84-acre, 1.14-million-square foot business park just west of Plank Road in Jeffersonville. According to the company’s website, more than 30 businesses are located in the park, with spaces ranging in size from 10,000 to 40,000 square feet.

The revised drainage plans presented by Heritage Engineering were unanimously approved on the recommendation of a letter from City Engineer Andy Crouch, who was not in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting.