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March 26, 2013

Sellersburg revisits water company deal

Annexation plans becoming clearer

SELLERSBURG — A deal to purchase a water company, once struck down by the town of Sellersburg, is being revisited.

Sellersburg Town Council Attorney Jake Elder notified the town council Monday night that the attorney for Riverside Water Co. had reached out to the town to see if it was willing to purchase the private water company. 

Previous attempts to negotiate a deal with the Jeffersonville-based water wholesaler did not pan out, said Sellersburg Municipal Works Director Ken Alexander. The previous deal had included a price tag of about $1.3 million, including debt owed to the town, and that the owner would retain certain property on-site.

Town Council President Paul Rhodes initially stated that the town council had decided to move on from the deal and not negotiate the purchase of the company. The board had agreed to move forward, in part, because they did not want to continue negotiations because it may delay the town from determining new water rates.

“We need to move on with our rate ordinance,” Rhodes said. “If we would pursue this we would need to resolve that before we would adopt the rate ordinance.”

Councilman Brian Meyer asked if they shouldn’t reconsider making a deal.

Sellersburg provides the water to the wholesale company, and by buying the water company the town would add about 1,300 customers, increase revenues and increase bonding capacity.

“Right now, it’s just a wholesale customer, so it would actually turn into 1,300 individual customers,” Alexander said. He explained that for a wholesale customer there is not a minimum rate, but there is a minimum rate for individuals, designed to help pay off outstanding bonds.

“In the long run it could potentially help out the people in Sellersburg because it could reduce the increased water rate,” Elder said.

The town has been reviewing plans that would increase its water rates. A $5 million bond is being sought to complete improvements to the town’s water-treatment plant; drilling for two new supply wells; construction of a new booster station; a new 500,000-gallon water storage tank; and to refurbish two of its existing water tanks.

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