The Ben Davis Conservancy District is a special taxing district created for the sole purpose of transporting sanitary sewage to a treatment plant. The district is generally bounded by the Penn Central Railroad tracks on the north, Minnesota Street on the south, Tibbs Avenue on the east and Lucerne on the west. A map included hereafter. The district has nothing to do with storm sewage or storm drainage – ONLY sanitary sewage -The sewage is treated by Citizens Energy Group pursuant to a contract between the Conservancy and the City/Citizens Energy Group.
The Conservancy is owned by the freeholders (property owners of the district) and is controlled by the freeholders through a three person board of directors elected by the freeholders. It is not controlled by politicians and operates free of political influence. The Conservancy encompasses a large area in Wayne Township in Marion County, Indiana, and contains approximately 6,000 freehold or parcels of real estate. Approximately 12,000 to 15,000 people reside in the Conservancy. The treatment of the sanitary sewage in the Conservancy is financed by the collection of an ad valorem property tax levied on all real estate within the boundaries. Therefore, the higher assessment of a piece of real estate, the more the taxpayer pays for the sanitary sewer service. A home worth $165,000 pays more than a home worth $68,000.
The property tax is a manner of paying for sanitary sewage that is prevalent and customary all over the United States and is not unique to Indianapolis.
More expensive homes are charged more for police protection, schools, libraries, and most other municipal services. There is nothing unique about using the value of the property as a basis for sanitary sewer charges. The Conservancy was created in the 1950’s because the City of Indianapolis could not or would not provide sanitary sewer service to the Conservancy residents. There were filthy and squalid conditions in the Conservancy area caused by a high density population, and the Conservancy was created by the residents of the area as a “self help” project to protect their health and property values. A bond issue of $3,260,000 was issued in 1959 and has since been paid off by the Conservancy residents. The Conservancy now has no indebtedness. In essence, the Conservancy was created by its residents because nobody else would help them and it has been entirely paid for by its original residents. The Conservancy’s sewer lines, buildings, and equipment belong to its freeholders and they are all paid for. Citizens Energy Group, on the other hand , computes sanitary sewer charges by both a “user fee ” and the imposition of a small property tax. Its method of finance is fundamentally different. The “user fee” is the primary means of finance and imposes a fee based upon water consumption. The more water you use, the higher the user fee. Thus, some of the more expensive properties in the Conservancy would benefit if a user fee were utilized to determine the sanitary sewer charge, but most would not . The cost of sanitary sewer service in comparison with the other sewer systems is highly favorable to the vast majority of residents of the Conservancy. There have been comparison studies conducted by both Citizens Energy Group and Triad Engeering over the past few years. Each study found that the Conservancy is a benefit to about 80% to 88% of the freeholders in the district. ( If Citizens Energy Group were to take over the Conservancy district, 80% to 88% of the residents would have to pay higher charges for sanitary service through the implementation of their “user fees”.) The latest study showing a benefit to 88% of the residents is included in this flyer.
Citizens Energy Group charges a user fee in calculating its sanitary sewer charges. The Conservancy charges no user fees but is financed entirely with a property tax. For 2015, the Conservancy tax is $0.2310 per every $100 of assessed value.
Every freeholder should be aware of his or her individual situation and should consider whether or not it is fair for ordinary taxpayers (mostly the original residents of older homes) who have paid for a sewer system for years and who own the system to have that system taken from them by a few individuals who might benefit from a takeover by Citizens Energy Group.
Below is the holiday schedule for the Ben Davis Conservancy District, the office will closed on the following days:
New Years Day
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr Day
Thanksgiving & Following Day
Christmas Day & Following Day