Is It Government Spending Or Investing?

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener 

We get a good number of news releases here at the newspaper from elected officials, primarily on the state and federal level, about getting our fiscal house in order. Their answer is cut, cut, CUT! spending.

At least that is how they frame their monetary argument: to tax less, spend less, make government more leaner.

Some leaders, while cheering the recent announcement of more jobs coming to Crothersville, would quietly lament the spending of nearly $900,000 to install a road and make safety a higher priority in the local industrial park.

I don’t view such financial expenditures as spending; I call it investing. Investing in better roads for easier access, investing in safety, investing in expansions that result in more jobs.

Presently it seems our state legislature and governor is interested in cutting income to counties, cities, towns, fire departments and other emergency services while claiming to be our fiscal friend by cutting our taxes and leaving more money in Hoosier pockets.

Sounds nice but it might be better to invest even more money in some infrastructure we all use. Driven on any county roads lately? A bumpy ride awaits you on the pothole plagued, crumbling asphalt.

And then there is the matter of bridges over streams and rivers that have damage we can’t see from the surface, according to inspecting engineers.

The investment in the local wastewater treatment plant has paid off not only by sending cleaner water downstream but now also with additional jobs.

Did you spend money on a mortgage or did you invest money in a home for your family? Did you spend money on a vehicle or did you invest money in transportation to get to and from work?

And if you don’t maintain the roof of your house or change the oil in your car because you want to cut your spending to leave more money in your pocket you will eventually be walking to buy a tarp to cover your leaking roof.

Legislators want to cut spending; local leaders want to see more investment.

Po-TAY-to or Po-TA-to?

We should demand of our state and national leaders who control the purse strings to make the investment in state and local infrastructure for our safety and aid our ability to help attract new business. And if we and our families get to use some smooth roadways & safe bridges along the way, then it is, indeed, a wise investment.

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State To Pay 97% Of Infrastructure Costs For Aisin Expansion

There was twice the good news for Crothersville at last week’s town council meeting.

In addition to learning that local industries Aisin Drivetrain and Aisin Chemical would be expanding their manufacturing business in Crothersville and adding 77 more jobs, town officials learned that a much needed secondary access road to the industrial park south of town and a rail crossing on Industrial Way would be funded nearly entirely by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.

In all, the new road, rail crossing lights and gates, and street lighting are estimated to cost $860,000. The state announced that they would fund up to $835,000 toward the project leaving the remaining $25,000 to come from the town.

According to the town’s 2013 annual report, over $97,000 was in the Economic Development Income Tax (EDIT) fund at the start of this year. EDIT is where road repairs and construction is typically funded.

“This is incredibly good news for the town,” council president Ardell Mitchell said. “We appreciate the state and our industrial partners for stepping up to make the project happen. For Crothersville to do a nearly million dollar project for only a $25,000 contribution by the town is a no brainer for us.”

Jim Plump, executive director of Jackson County Industrial Development Corporation, told the council that much of the reason for the state to ante up more is because the Aisin companies told the state they would forego tax and training credits in order to allow additional state dollars to pay for roadway and safety for the industrial park employees.

“We are pleased to be a part of this expansion and infrastructure improvement,” said Scott Turpin, president of Aisin Drivetrain. “Crothersville has been a good relationship for us. It is a whole lot better working in a small community.”

The engineer’s preliminary design calls for Industrial Way to continue to the west and curve to the north to connect with Kovener Street.

“It is our intentions right now to make the new road for car and truck traffic only,” said Mitchell. “Semi traffic would still use the US 31 and rail crossing for access to the industrial park.”

Mitchell said he hoped to fast track the roadway project with design and initial construction in the fall of this year with completion in the spring of 2015.

“And we need to coordinate the crossing work with the railroad so that their welded rail improvements don’t make our crossing signal investment for naught,” said Mitchell.

In all, the Aisin expansion will bring investments in building, machinery, and IT equipment to over $44 million.

The industrial expansion and the town’s financial commitment will cause a slight delay to some planned street resurfacing projects.

In April the council had decided to look at paving Dixon Street from Kovener Street to the railroad, Main Street from US 31 to Preston Street, Marshall Drive from US 31 to Moore Street, and Bard Street from Seymour Road to Preston Street.

In light of the town’s Industrial Way expansion priority, the council opted to seek bids on the Dixon Street, Main Street and Marshall Drive re-paving and make a decision at the June council meeting.

In other matters, the council re-visited upgrading the town’s water utility meters to electronic to allow for regular monthly readings.

Winter weather— both snow cover and cold— prevented town workers from reading meters resulting in estimated bills for three months. When workers read the meters in March, April was the catch-up billing cycle which caused some residents to experience higher that usual bills which prompted complaints to town hall.

No complaints were received from residents who had lower than usual bills.

“One way to improve the regular monthly reading is to go to electronic meters,” said council president Mitchell. “In addition to regular readings— which is apparently what our residents want— we can alert consumers of water leaks more rapidly saving them some money.”

Water Utility Superintendent Chris Mains said that the electronic meters would cost over $124,000 to convert all meters.

He estimated, depending on the weather, that it currently takes 2-3 town workers 2-3 days to complete the monthly meter readings. He estimated the monthly cost to the town in wages to be around $2,400.

The council directed Mains to get current price quote for the meters and they would be prepared to take a vote on the matter in June.

In another matter, the town opened bids for re-siding and repairing the town’s barn near the water tower.

The barn has been a bit of an embarrassment for the town as it falls under the derelict and unsafe building ordinance.

“It is not good for the town to be expecting our property owners to keep up their buildings when the town is not,” said Mitchell.

Riley’s Home Improvement of Scottsburg bid $25,156 to put new metal, repair any structural issues and upgrade the electrical service.

Sam Kuehn Construction of Crothersville bid $34,781 for the metal work and $4,876 for electrical work.

Nehrt’s Construction of Crothersville bid $31,420 for replacing the barn’s metal and $4,354 for electrical work.

Crothersville Heating and Air bid $4,350 for the electrical work only.

The council agreed to review the proposals and take action on the matter at their June 3 meeting.

Council To “Let The Voters Decide”

The matter of expanding the number of local residents serving on the Crothersville Town Council will be decided by the voters in November was the decision of the 3-member council when the met last Tuesday.

At the April meeting the council was confronted with the question of increasing the number of council seats from 3 to 5.

Reportedly, the thinking behind the increase is that some residents would like to eliminate 2-1 votes where one person is responsible for making decisions for the town.

The council needs to pass a resolution by Aug. 1 of this year to get the council expansion question on the ballot.

“I say we put it on the ballot and see with the voters say,” said councilman Lenvil ‘Butch’ Robinson.

And council members Ardell Mitchell and Derrick Minton agreed so by a 3-0 vote, the voters of Crothersville will decide in November when they want five council members representing them.

Nothing firm was discussed about alternating terms so that the town would have municipal elections every two years rather than four.

Town Attorney Jeff Lorenzo was directed to draw up the resolution for consideration before the Aug. 1 deadline.

Parks Board Appointed

Crothersville has a Parks Board again after the town council made four appointments to re-institute the board last week.

The former parks board was dissolved several years ago due to lack of interest.

Tiffany Reynolds was appointed to serve until April 2015, Jeremy Justice was appointed through April 2016, Corey Strong was named to the board through April 2017, and Danieta Foster was named to the parks board through April 2018.

They join the Crothersville Community Schools appointee Andrew Nehrt to fill the 5-member board.

The parks board is to provide planning and policy for operation and improvements to the town’s two parks: Bard Street Park on the east side of town and Countryside Park on the west side.

By having a parks board makes the town eligible for financial grants for improvements from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

 

Large Trash Pick-Up Continues Next Tuesday

Residents on the east side of the railroad in Crothersville north of Howard Street will have large trash pick-up next Tuesday, May 20.

Residents can set out large trash that does not exceed an area 4’x8’x4′. No hazardous material, paint, oils, fence wire, construction debris, large appliances or tires will be collected during the special pick up.

Residents on the west side of town will have large trash pickup on Wednesday, May 28. “The day delay is due to the Memorial Day holiday,” said town hall first deputy Michele Teipen.