The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

May 7, 2013

Newport sewage plant project is a debacle


NEWPORT, Ind. — Newport officials knew they would need to have access to a sewage treatment facility. At first, the plan was to send the sewage produced by the townspeople to the facility located at the former Army ammunition plant for processing.

Newport Town Council members voted to build a new facility at the cost of $5.7 million instead of using the existing facility at the Army ammunition plant.

A bid for land was presented to the owner of a nearby parcel of land and the owner refused to sell. Town council members found another parcel of land and offered to pay $70,000 of borrowed money for around 9 acres they thought were within the Newport city limits. They later discovered most of the newly acquired land was not with in the city limits.

Town council members announced in the local newspaper they were expanding the city limits to include the land for the new sewage plant.

The sewage plant must be at least 500 feet from any personal residences and 150 feet from any railroad. The land bought by the town council will not accommodate this requirement. If the required 500 feet from a residence is met, then the required 150 feet from a railroad cannot be maintained.

The townspeople presented to the council a petition with 160 names to protest the plan to spend more than $5 million on this project. Council members ignored the wishes of the townspeople and continued with the plans to build a new facility in Newport.

City officials have applied for and received grants from the state and federal government to pay for all but around $1.2 millions of building the facility. Town council members have borrowed around $250,000 more or less to pay for land and surveys and other expenses related to the project. The people of Newport will now be responsible for paying back the $1.2 million of the building expense plus the $250,000 borrowed by the town council plus the cost of running and maintaining the new facility. The state and federal governments will pay an additional $4.5 million in the form of grant money.

The country and the state and the local people of Newport cannot afford this type of wasteful spending. Why would the Newport town council elect to pay more than $5 million total tax dollars for a facility when one already exists that would serve the purpose of the town?

Harold and Alayne Roderick reside in Newport, Ind.