HEBRON | As a financial consultant, it's not often Ted Sommer gets to share good news, especially when he's asked to do a study of water and sewer rates.
Wednesday in Hebron was one of those rare cases, when Sommer met with the council and the town clerk-treasurer in a workshop session to share the results of his analysis of the town's sewer rate and what would be needed to finance improvements to the sewer plant.
Sommer, of the London Witte Group of Indianapolis, said the town ended 2013 with a balance that was $42,000 higher than at the start of the year, a 45 percent increase.
"I don't know how you can't call that good," he said.
The town has a 2001 bond issue for the sewer plant that is due to be paid off Jan. 1, 2016, but Clerk-Treasurer Terri Waywood said it probably will be paid off at the end of this year. That will eliminate an annual $260,000 payment. Another bond issue will run through 2026.
Sommer said, if the town wanted to issue a $2.4 million bond issue this year for a proposed list of improvements at the treatment plant, it could do so without raising rates.
"This is what we were looking for," a relieved Council President Don Ensign said. "We've worked toward this goal for a long time. It's kind of rewarding. When we started into this, nobody knew why we wanted the study. Now we've got a planning tool. I wasn't expecting that good of an outcome."
The original list given to Sommer included a generator for the sewer plant, but the council bought that a few months ago using money from its rainy day fund. Ensign said the council will work with Midwest Contract Operations, which operates the town's utilities and the street department, to come up with a final list of improvements for the plant and to create a five-year budget for its operation.
"There's never been a real budget for the sewer plant," he said. "We want to do it so we have more control and so we know what we can do. We needed this so we know where we stand."
Waywood said the town needs to have another rate analysis for the water plant. The cost of the sewer rate analysis will be about $1,500, she said.