Lake Station stock

The large water tower at Riverview Park welcomes visitors to Lake Station.

Doug Ross, The Times

LAKE STATION — The privatization of the Lake Station water utility is moving to another phase.

The city’s Board of Works on Tuesday approved an asset purchase agreement with Indiana American Water.

In June, the City Council authorized selling the Water Department to Indiana American for nearly $20.7 million.

Dewey Lemley, Lake Station’s superintendent of public services, said the monetary amount hasn’t changed.

Lemley said the agreement documents all the details of the acquisition, which now will be reviewed by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.

Mayor Christopher Anderson said that process will take several months, and the IURC will make the final decision about the purchase.

City leaders prepared the municipality’s 2018 budget proposal without the sale proceeds in the spending plan, because Lake Station won’t start off the year with that funding.

Lake Station officials anticipate the sale will finalize, and money from it will be received during the first quarter of 2018.

The 2018 budget proposal, which was approved by the City Council on first reading Sept. 28, includes a general fund of about $3.8 million. The council could adopt the budget Oct. 12.

Lemley said the council would adjust the spending plan after the water sale is approved by the IURC and funding is received next year.

City leaders on numerous occasions have discussed using a significant portion of the sale proceeds to pay off debt associated with the Water Department and to stabilize the general fund, which long has had a deficit.

It would be up to the council to decide how to use the remainder of that funding. Council President Carlos Luna has said the panel understands all city departments have needs, including additional personnel, but the council has no plans of running through that money quickly.

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