A couple of important items:
As we've noted, Lynn Shimer has moved and is no longer on Council. Bob Hanson was elected President (previously VP). Council must, and will, fill the vacant Council opening before October 31st. Council will discuss this, and elect its new VP, at the October 14th meeting. In the interim, Bob and Scott Hollern are juggling the Planning Commission and Budget/Finance Committee roles as there are a number of 'hot irons' in the fire. Paul Balint is the new Water/Sewer Chair. Shaun Nemeth remains chair of Roads and Maintenance.
New Water Treatment Plant (WTP) and Tank
This project will impact ALL water users. Well 18B at Wenatchee will be brought back on line and both Well 99 and 18B will supply the new WTP, with the treated water stored in both the old and a new Cherry Lane tank. Customers on the "eastern shores" will continue to be fed from the Cherry Lane tank(s). The Peninsula Tank will continue to be gravity-filled from Cherry Lane. Peninsula customers will be fed from either the Peninsula Tank or directly from Cherry Lane. Customers on the "western shores" and the Buckstown Tank will also be fed from the Cherry Lane Tanks, via new valves, or via the Peninsula Tank via a booster pump. Well 2 will be relegated to back-up only status and will not be further treated.
The DEP permit has been received and PennVest funding should be finalized shortly. The contracting process will then begin, likely in early 2021. Water billing rates will increase in order to pay down this debt. These rate increases will go into effect in January for CY 2021, and are expected to be $30/mo, but billed annually at $360.
Out of the Red
Our financial projections show that Indian Lake will emerge from an overall indebted posture (net assests>net debt) ever-so-briefly in the spring of 2021! This will be short-lived as we will be in transition between $Multi-Million DEP mandates; recovering from the Dam Debt and entering into the WTP PennVest loan repayment.
Due to what appears to be an increase in home sales and construction we have asked Don Reed, our Tax Collector (and a former realtor) to provide us an update on home sales and growth in the Borough. His analysis is below:
Hi - As we have discussed, the recent flurry of activity, and the current lack of inventory would suggest that the Indian Lake real estate market has taken a turn for the better! Indeed, total annual sales (all types of properties) have increased from 23 in 2017, to 36 in 2018, to 54 in 2019 - and 2020 looks like it will be just as good!
Not only has sales volume increased, but sale price as a function of asking price is increasing as well. People used to complain a few years ago that sale prices were 15 to 20 percent below asking prices, but things have changed considerably! This year to date 31 homes have sold - sale prices have been averaging 90 to 95 percent of the asking price. Average sale price of a waterfront home is currently about 480K ( not counting two exceptional homes that have sold for over 1 million); park homes are averaging about 315 K, and golf/secluded homes are averaging sale prices of about 230K.
So far this year, 14 park and waterfront homes have sold - but also, 17 golf/secluded homes. This is a departure from normal - waterfront has traditionally led the pace. But now, perhaps due to the COVID virus, it just might be that more and more big city folks are looking for reasonably priced homes in more isolated places - like Indian Lake!!
Budget and Taxes
We are diligently working on the former in order to not increase the latter. Two years ago we asked you for input as to what would be better; aggressive debt pay-down or lower taxes. You opted for a balance; we lowered taxes from 19.3 mils to 14.3 mils and said we would hold them at 14.3 mils for at least two years and reassess. Our reassessment is thus: We could reduce taxes to another ~4 mils and live hand-to-mouth. We can leave them as is and get out of the red, more comfortably, over the next 2-3 years. Our view is that we are comfortable as-is, for at least another year. As it looks now, no change in taxes next year.
There is one opening on Planning right now and there will be one or 2 openings at the end of the year. Planning is a very important part of our municipal governance and is a great opportunity to learn about the Lake. Planning Commission membership is by appointment so you don't need to 'run' for office or get elected. If you are interested in learning more, please contact Planning@indianlakepa.us