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A regional district is a local form of government created to deal with a specific problem regarding water, sewer or trash. There are different types of regional districts. Water, solid waste and sewer districts are formed to handle drinking water, solid waste (trash) and wastewater infrastructure needs.
The process to successful formation begins with ensuring that a regional district is the appropriate utility structure for your community. You can begin to collect materials and discuss the idea, using trade associations and other organizations as tools. Doing so requires much less time and can sometimes be more effective and cost-efficient.
Note: It is important for property owners to know if they are a part of a regional water or sewer district. Please see the resources section of this guide and talk to other districts.
Planning ahead is important for successful district formation. Contact one of the organizations listed in the Resources section of this Guide to determine if there is already a regional district in your county which could meet your needs (water, solid waste or sewers). This will also help to ensure that a regional district is the appropriate utility structure for your community. Contacting one of these organizations in advance can save time and prevent frustration with the process.
An income survey may be necessary to determine affordability within the service area and help determine eligibility. If your area is small enough, a door to door income survey may help garner support for district formation by giving individuals an opportunity to ask questions. Income is a sensitive topic for most people to discuss, and the personal contact may ease tension or allow the district to explain why data is needed. Utilize this time to make residents aware of the health benefits and increased property value a district may bring.
Utilize the services of associations such as the Alliance of Indiana Rural Water, the Indiana Rural Water Association (IRWA), and Rural Community Assistance Program (Indiana RCAP). Their services are free and they can help direct you through various aspects of the process.
Once it has been determined that formation of a district is desired, a governmental entity (such as a County Commissioner) must file the petition to form the district.
It is important to involve the community and to effectively communicate the reasons for the district formation. Here's how:
The engineer may provide some or all of these services; however you can also consult with the Rural Community Assistance Program (RCAP) for further information.
Funding sources are further detailed in the "Finding Resources" section of this guide.
It is important to publicize the district's existence to new homeowners, developers, and other political entities. The district needs to outline its responsibilities and ensure others are aware of the district. For example, new homeowners must be aware of the district's presence so that they know about billing and do not install their own alternative system. Many different districts are using varied methods to educate new residents to the area.
Some basic ideas:
New methods being utilized are:
Elkhart Regional Sewer District in Elkhart County is trying both new methods listed above. Elkhart also found it useful to stay in contact with everyone at the county level to be sure that they understood what was expected of the district and the county. This also helped them to remain in good contact and have good relations with the county.
To use the county records, Elkhart began to ask the County Auditor about how to get more up to date names and address. They gave the Auditor's office the boundaries of the district. The County Auditor processed the boundaries and sent them to the Information Technology/ Data Processing department. Using these boundaries, the county was able to help in supplying a freeholder list which could be used for mailing. This list was more up to date than that used earlier for assessing the district.
Elkhart also is putting a 'flag' onto every address within the district on the county's database. This means that whenever a realtor or anyone examines the addresses, they will see this unknown flag. The county office of the Recorder and Auditor are able to explain the flag. Each flag is numbered by which geographic area within the district that residence is located. For example, the first geographically connected area is number one and an additional area for a second build or system is number two.
To set-up the flags, Elkhart spoke with the office of the Recorder and Auditor. Discussing their need and the importance of their service with the county, Elkhart was able to sit down with the County Recorder and Auditor to find ideas that might work. The 'flag' concept worked within the county given their current database and set-up. A different idea may work for your district. Kris Krueger is the County Grant Administrator in Elkhart County and serves as the County Liaison to the district. She organized the flag and mailing list for the district with the county offices. She may be called with questions about Elkhart's process to set-up these new methods. Her phone number is (574) 535-6746.
The district may have any of the following responsibilities, according to the National Small Flow Clearinghouse: