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Board will fight lawsuit

by Christy Chalmers, staff writer

Indian Hills General Improvement District trustees say they’ll fight a lawsuit over sewer fees on new homes.

In directing district lawyer Jeff Rahbeck to answer the complaint filed Aug. 22 in Douglas District Court, the trustees added a few jabs themselves Thursday night.

Board chairman Steve Weaver called the claims in the suit “gross distortions.”

“Most of the allegations are completely incorrect,” he said.

DGD Development Ltd., JS Devco, Ltd., Syncon Homes and John Serpa want a district judge to throw out a district policy they say will force future homeowners to pay the entire cost of a $1.7 million sewer plant expansion.

In their complaint, the developers said a $4,457 sewer connection fee to be assessed on 400 new homes unfairly forces the cost on the new homeowners while giving current customers a free ride.

They contend a more reasonable fee is $1,261 per house.

Rahbeck said he thinks the district has a good defense.

“The real issue is if the growth of the facility is growth-driven or replacement-driven,” he said. “I think it was growth-driven. I think we’re on real good grounds.”

Weaver said the dispute has been brewing since 1997.

“Everybody is paying for the expansion, not just the newcomers,” he said. “I don’t think they’ve got much of an argument.”

He also took issue with accusations that the board didn’t give the issue a fair hearing and made its decision in advance of a July 12 hearing.

The lawsuit could affect the district’s current sewer budget. Weaver said the budget assumed 25 sewer connections would be sold and JS Devco would be buying several of them.

District Manager Jim Bentley said 13 have been sold so far, and he and Weaver agreed Devco might not buy the expected units.

If the connections aren’t sold, Bentley said the shortfall could be covered with money that otherwise would be spent on capital projects.