Financing for Berne sewer project is approved

    After a nearly two-week dance with state environmental officials, during which time the state twice changed its advisory opinion surrounding financing for a Berne waste water treatment plant upgrade, city officials on Monday approved an ordinance authorizing the issuance of $7.9 million in sewage works improvement bonds.
    Dennis Otten of Bose McKinney & Evans, the city’s bond counsel, was on hand for Monday night’s meeting of Berne City Council and explained to city officials the series of decisions by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management that nearly prevented the city from issuing the bonds.
    At its meeting two weeks ago, council learned that bids for the project to revamp its wastewater treatment plant — to comply with stiffer state regulations mandating the removal of higher amounts of phosphorus from the plant’s effluent — had come in much higher than anticipated. Bids were received from two firms, R.A. Crosby and Fleming Excavating of Decatur. Crosby had the low bid of $8.8 million, much higher than the engineering estimate of $7.23 million. An additional $2 million was set aside by the city to pay for sludge removal from the existing lagoon treatment plant. That cost was not part of the financing structure for the project.
    Otten said that following council’s decision to proceed with the project, despite the higher-than-anticipated bids, the project plans were tweaked and the bond ordinance retooled to reflect the higher project cost.
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