About 11,000 residences in Jeffersonville and Clarksville would see a rate increase if the Jeffersonville City Council agrees to move forward on a plan to mitigate flooding in the area.
The Jeffersonville-Clarksville Flood Control District held a joint workshop with the Jeffersonville City Council to discuss a $7.5 million bond to make repairs to the Cane Run and Mill Creek pump stations.
A request to allow the joint flood control district to seek the bond has been a plan on hold since February. No action was taken to seek the bond due to several unanswered questions that lingered about the project. To help answer some of the concerns, a watershed study was conducted. The recommendations were recently presented to the joint flood control district and the town of Clarksville to repair only the Cane Run pump station.
The Clarksville Town Council approved its resolution to allow the joint flood control district to seek the bond. The flood control district has also approved seeking the bond. However, the resolution that would allow the joint flood control board to move forward on securing the bond was not on the Jeffersonville city council’s agenda Monday night. It is expected to be on the agenda for the council’s July 15 meeting.
John Herriford, engineer with Strand Associates Inc., which conducted the watershed analysis, gave a brief overview of the project and its purpose.
He explained the purpose of the watershed analysis was to determine the peak ponding elevation inside the floodwall for different amounts of rainwater. Based on how much water is being held in the area, the Cane Run and Mill Creek pump stations would turn on to force the water into the Ohio River. By removing the water from the ponding area, it would allow the stormwater systems in both municipalities to flow, moving potentially backed up water out of the sewers. The long-recommended and expected plan to mitigate the flooding was to lower the level at which the pumps in the two stations would turn on.
The probable costs for the plan, which were provided by American Structurepoint, totaled $7 million for the repairs to Mill Creek pump station. The plan called for the pump station to be lowered 4 feet. The Cane Run pump station ranged from $5.5 million to $5.7 million to lower the level of the station by 3 to 6 feet, respectively.
Herriford said repairs at either pump station would achieve the same goal.
“The technical advisory committee thinks that Cane Run is definitely the priority for this project,” he said.
As a result, it was recommended that only the repairs to the Cane Run pump station be made at this time.
WHO IT WOULD AFFECT
To pay for the bond, about 7,000 households in Jeffersonville and nearly 4,000 in Clarksville would see a rate increase to the taxes paid to the joint flood control district if the bond is approved.
Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore said the properties that would be affected are located, roughly, from the Jeffersonville Aquatic Center down Eighth Street and from 10th street to the Ohio River.
According to James Higgins, a certified public accountant with London Witte Group who provided a financial analysis for the anticipated rate, said the total increase would be less than 1 cent per $100 of assessed value. He estimated the impact for a homeowner that owns a $100,000 home would total about $24.40 per year in additional cost.
The rate increase that is anticipated would fall within the maximum levy, which is subject to circuit breaker tax caps. Indiana’s circuit breaker tax caps limit the amount of taxes that can be collected on a single property to 1 percent of a home’s assessed value, 2 percent for a rental property and 3 percent for a business.
“We didn’t look into any circuit breaker analysis whatsoever,” Higgins said.
A host of other variables also exist with the bond. Higgins said what happens with properties hitting the tax caps is dependent upon what other taxing districts in the area do during the life of the loan. The $7.5 million bond is expected to be sought over 20 years and would total about $538,000 per year at an estimated interest rate of 4 percent. If another levy were to increase, it would push the properties closer to the tax caps. And if the tax caps are reached, the city would have to cut funding out of its budget elsewhere.
“If the city has a circuit breaker, the first priority for payment is your debt service, and then operational funds take the hit, and you can pick what funds are taking that hit,” Higgins said.
However, several city officials and flood control members said the majority of the homes in the designated area are below the assessed value at which they would reach the 1 percent tax caps.
An estimated value was offered at about $150,000 and Higgins said an analysis could be done to determine what the value would be at which the tax caps are reached.
Built into the plan are other projects that are expected to mitigate flooding in the area.
“For example, the big storage interceptor that everybody’s talking about, we integrated that into this model,” Herriford said.
So was a project that has been a source of controversy between Moore and the city council: a retention pond planned for near Eighth Street and Indiana Avenue, which would direct water to the 10th Street pump station or overflow to Cane Run, was included in the watershed analysis.
“That pond was included as one of the ... anticipated Jeffersonville projects,” Herriford said.
Moore asked Jorge Lanz, president of Jacobi, Toombs and Lanz, Inc. to explain the need for the retention pond, pointing to the heavy rains that occurred Wednesday.
“If that open ditch, if it would have been the pond, I am of the opinion that some or most of that water, we would have been able to suck it out of the top of the streets and put it back in there in the pond until the 96 inch [pipe] had room to get it out to the Cane Run ponding area,” Lanz said. “I am a firm believer that pond being back there would mitigate [flooding]. I strongly believe that we need to go ahead and construct a pond. We’re going to reduce the problem,” he added later in the meeting. “To fix it ... we’re going to have to build 10 of those interceptors that we’re building down there to take all this water.”
And if Jeffersovnille’s problems are resolved, so are Clarksville’s, according to Lanz.
“In Jeffersonville ... if our problem is mitigated, Clarksville is automatic,” he said. “Their problem occurs at a higher elevation,” he said, referring to the point at which the pump stations would turn on.
Moore said the retention pond has been part of a plan to mitigate flooding downtown for a long time.
“This wasn’t my idea. This was actually an idea the previous administration put together and it was supported wholeheartedly,” he said.
The retention pond was originally designed to be the starting point of a planned canal that would carry stormwater out to the Ohio River. Moore added that the state recognized the problem and offered the city a $500,000 grant to create the retention basin and a park surrounding the area.
The city council voted against seeking the grant because of $700,000 in additional costs to construct a park around the retention basin and concerns of combined sewer overflows into the pond.
“I’m not in favor of building a big ditch, a big hole, where people coming into the city are going to see that,” Moore said. “Businesses are not going to want to build around that.”
The pond has also been included in a recent request for proposal issued by the city. The Jeffersonville Redevelopment Commission accepted, then rejected a plan from White Reach Development, but has agreed to negotiate only with that developer on constructing a development at Spring and 10th Streets that includes the pond.
“It’s not a significant per household cost,” Moore said of the cost to homeowners. “It’s less than the recycling is per year. It doesn’t make sense to pass this if we don’t have the retention lake as well,” he added.
Look for information on Monday’s city council meeting in an upcoming edition of the News and Tribune.