By Ken de la Bastide
Tribune staff writer
— Property owners in Darrough Chapel will be able to spread the cost of connecting to a new sanitary sewer system over five years.
The subdivision has been plagued by sewer problems for several decades, including failing septic systems and sewer connections to a county drain. Through an agreement with the city of Kokomo, 120 homes are being connected to a new city sewer. Work is expected to be completed this year.
The Howard County Stormwater District is expected to enact a plan allowing property owners to borrow the $1,250 connection fee for the Kokomo sewer system and funds to pay a contractor to connect their residence to the sewer line.
Howard County will pay the city the connection fee for each of the houses in Darrough Chapel. The city would not waive the connection fee, county officials said.
The Stormwater District will hire a contractor to connect all the houses to the sewer system and abandon the existing septic systems. Greg Lake, administrator of the stormwater district, has estimated the total cost at $4,000 for each house.
Lake said the district has the $480,000 available to cover the costs, if all 120 property owners sign up for the program.
Property owners will be charged 5 percent interest for administration of the program. Funds will be repaid in 10 equal installments as part of the annual property tax payments beginning in May 2014.
Lake said 22 of the property owners in Darrough Chapel have started the process with many already connected to the city sewer, mainly south of Markland Avenue.
Commissioner Paul Wyman, a member of the stormwater district board, said the intent was to make the program available to all 120 property owners.
The board decided to reimburse those property owners who already have paid for the connection and allow them to participate in the program to repay the funds over five years.
Wyman said those property owners were unaware the county was going to offer a financing mechanism when they paid to have their houses connected to the system.
Commissioner Tyler Moore said this will give those property owners the opportunity to spread out the payments, if they paid the costs upfront.
Lake said the Darrough Chapel project was scheduled to be complete by June 1, but the county is going to ask for a six-month extension to complete the project.
“Everyone has to be connected,” he said. “We need enough time to connect everyone to the sanitary sewer system before the extension runs out.”
Property owners will have 30 days to enroll in the program after its adoption by the Stormwater District Board, Board of Commissioners and Howard County Council. Adoption is expected in June.
County attorney Larry Murrell said if property owners don’t connect to the sewer system, the county will need to take enforcement action.
He said 100 percent of the property owners have to connect to the sewer system for the county to be in compliance with the Community Development Block Grant.
“If we’re found not in compliance, the county could be required to repay the $600,000 in grant funds,” Murrell said.
The Stormwater District has spent about $116,000 on the project.
Through an agreement with Kokomo, Darrough Chapel property owners will be charged a monthly sewer fee of $45.
Kokomo agreed to extend an interceptor sewer line along Arnold Avenue at a cost of $1.2 million for the Darrough Chapel connection.