MERRILLVILLE | Make that 154 down; 170 to go.

Merrillville officials figure if they dim another 170 streetlights, they'll be able to come up with the money they owe NIPSCO in past due bills.

Town and utility officials met Wednesday to talk about how many light Merrillville will disconnect and how the municipality will pay the utility money it owes in past due bills.

"Overall, the meeting with the town went well and it was very productive," NIPSCO spokesman Nick Meyer said.

Town Councilman Richard Hardaway said he told NIPSCO the town has already disconnected 154 streetlights and looks to disconnect approximately 170 more.

"(Public Works Director Bruce Spires) is in the process of doing that now," Hardaway said.

The Town Council decided last week to disconnect every other streetlight on main thoroughfares in Merrillville to help the municipality save funds. Lights in Merrillville subdivisions will not be disconnected, town leaders said.

Hardaway said the town must inform NIPSCO which lights have been disconnected once the town finishes turning off the lamps. The town will find out how much money it will save each month after NIPSCO receives that information.

Merrillville is currently charged more than $15,500 per month to power streetlights, Hardaway said. He thinks the town will meet its goal of reducing that bill to $10,000 per month after disconnecting the lights.

Meyer said Merrillville and NIPSCO officials also discussed moving forward Wednesday with legal action that would require Merrillville to secure a bond to pay more than $400,000 it owes NIPSCO in past due bills.

"Fully resolving the town's past due amounts is not an overnight process, and we will continue to work closely with them as they work toward addressing the situation," Meyer said.

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