Council Hints At Sewer Rate Increase

The Crothersville Town Council had a full plate of business when they met August 4 in one of the more lengthy—3 1/2 hour—meetings held this year.

Barry Singleton of National Water Services explained the results of recent flow tests conducted on the town’s water wells.

He told the council that the northern well at the town’s Countryside Park is providing the worst yield of the three town wells, pumping only 100 gallons a minute. He said a south well on the same property is in good shape pumping 250 gallons of water a minute.

Singleton said the well located west of the waste water treatment plant is the best producer of the three, though the pump is worn.

To improve the wells output, he recommended cleaning the two better producing wells at a cost estimate of $11,100. Repairing the pumps would add another $2,500-$3,500 to the cost.

The council took no action, opting to get a second opinion and cost estimate.

Insurance agent Roxanne Bixler said the town’s property & casualty insurance renewed on Aug. 2 with a 2.6% increase in premiums. Last year the town paid $34,879 for insurance while the 2009 premium will increase to $35,785.

The work for repair of a culvert, street and sidewalk on Moore Street washed out by recent heavy rains was awarded to Sam Kuehn Construction who bid $16,940 for the work. Kuehn is to have the work completed by Sept. 23, council president Ardell Mitchell said.

Other bidders included Brooks & Earl Construction of North Vernon, $35,000; Lawyer Excavating of Seymour, $19,086; Dave O’Mara Construction of North Vernon, $38,964.

Local resident Kelly Schmelzle approached the council about passing an ordinance to allow golf carts to be operated on town streets.

“It would be more economical than driving a car or truck and a convenience for many people,” said Schmelzle. “And something I discovered in my research, liability coverage from your homeowner’s insurance extends to golf carts,” she said.

Crothersville chief of police Vurlin McIntosh voiced opposition to allowing golf carts on town streets. “They are not made for the roadway,” he said.

Schmelzle said that the electric or gas powered carts would have to be modified with lights and turn signals before they could be operated on public thoroughfares. “And I would hope you would require that operators have a valid driver’s license and be at least 16 years old to operate,” she said, noting the any town ordinance would only apply to town streets, not to county roads.

She presented ordinances from other communities who have approved the people movers for use on public streets.

Council members Ardell Mitchell and Karen Mains expressed initial support for the measure; Bill Nagle opposed the matter. “I have to go with the recommendation of our police chief,” Nagle said.

No action was taken and Mitchell left the matter for further future discussion and debate along with public input.

During a lengthy discussion of the progress of the Combined Sewer Overflow issue at the waste water treatment plant, Mitchell said that it is possible that even with the repairs & modifications made by local workers at the plant, a sewer rate increase may be needed to pay for the CSO remediation costs.

“It is my view that it is better to have several little increases rather than a big jump,” said Mitchell. Nagle agreed suggesting the town contact Umbaugh and Associations to do a sewer rate evaluation.

In the past Umbaugh has conducted rate studies for the town’s water, waste water and trash collection fee structure.

Mitchell indicated that grant writers ARa of Columbus may be able to find grants to help in paying for the Umbaugh cost study.

Mitchell led a discussion on whether to pursue federal government Stimulus funds.

“In order to do so, we have to have projects designed and ready to go to bid,” said the council president.

He outlined two projects, replacing a culvert at Preston Street to handle the town’s main natural drainage way and milling (grinding) and repaving Howard Street. Design costs for both are expected to be $19,800.

“We have to pay for the design up front. And there is no guarantee that we would be awarded stimulus money,” said the council president.

Despite the gamble, the council voted 3-0 top continue with design work with FPBH of North Vernon, the town’s engineering firm.

Park Board member Alisa Sweazy told the council the park board is moving forward with a 5-Year Master Plan, a requirement to seek state grants and loans for development. Surveys of what the community wants in their park system are now available for the public to complete.

Sweazy said she planned on getting churches involved with the distribution of the surveys. Surveys would also be available at local businesses and at town hall. The completed surveys would need to be returned by some date yet determined in October, she said.

In other business, the council:

•Approved the recommendation of street superintendent Errol Isenhower to purchase a salt & sand spreader for winter use at a cost of $2,550.

•Approved paint repairs to the Ford Explorer used by the police department. The vehicle was vandalized earlier in the year while parked at town hall. Council approved having Lloyd’s Body Shop of Seymour make the repairs for $574.50.

•Took no action on the recommendation of Isenhower to hire Ronald Cox as a part-time utility worker. Councilwoman Karen Mains wanted to interview other possible applicants.

•Heard of concerns from West Howard Street resident Melanie Wayt on what she believes is run-off surface water from a town sewer finding its way into her basement. Mitchell said the town would look at modifying a catch basin in the town right-of-way in front of the Wayt’s home.