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Neumeister to lead regional sewer and water district

Hopes to minimize future controversy by lowering costs

Saturday, May 18, 2013 - 12:01 am

An agency that has extended sewers to about 4,000 homes since 1979 – sometimes generating hard feelings in the process – has a new leader.

Ken Neumeister, a former contractor who serves on the county's Plan Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals, this week was chosen executive director of the Allen County Regional Water and Sewer District. He succeeds Tom Fox, who has accepted a position with Indiana Tech's new law school.

The district connects homes in mostly sparsely populated areas to Fort Wayne's sewage treatment plant, usually at the request of a majority of property owners in the affected areas. Doing so can protect the environment by eliminating failing septic systems and can make areas more attractive to additional development.

But it can also be controversial. People whose septic systems are performing properly have at times objected to being forced to connect to sewers. Others have objected to the cost, which can include steep connection fees as well as monthly bills. Customers must also agree not to oppose any future attempt by the city to annex their homes.

Neumeister hopes to change some of that.

“I've spent 35 years in the utility and construction business, and my main goal is to find funding (that could help bring customers' costs down). I'd love to do that if possible,” he said.

Neumeister has long been active in local Republican politics but also supported Democratic Mayor Tom Henry and served on his transition team. Two years ago he unsuccessful sought the “ombudsman” position in the $1.4 million overhaul of city and county business and development regulations.

He will earn $67,500 as the district's executive director.