The Crothersville Town Council is moving forward on finding a solution to the chronic problem of storm water drainage in the community.
A public hearing was held prior to the Aug. 1 council meeting seeking the public’s input on applying for a grant through OCRA (Office of Community and Rural Affairs) which would help pay for cleaning the main drainage way in town. No one spoke in opposing improving storm water drainage.
Trena Carter of Administrative Resources associates of Columbus, the town’s grant writing and consulting firm, told those in attendance that the grant trees and brush would be removed from about 1,100’ of the western end of the drainageway known as Blau Ditch. Additionally, three culverts would be replaced with larger units at Kovener Street, Park Street, and Bethany Road.
“This is the best p[lace to start,” said council president Lenvel ‘Butch’ Robinson. “We should clean out the outflowing area first to get rid of the water. Then we can work our way back east into town.”
Robinson estimated at 80% of the town’s surface water from rain flows in Blau Ditch. “We need to get this ditch cleaned and water flowing quickly. We’re trying to take care of the 1,300 citizens of Crothersville.”
Carter said that a letter of intent to apply will be sent by Aug. 19 with the full application delivered in October.
She reminded the council that the grant applications are scored on need and local involvement.
“It would increase your chances of funding if you have a storm water utility fee in place,” she said.
The council has been talking for several months about instituting an additional monthly town utility fee to pay for driveway culverts and their installation.
At previous meetings Carter told the council that a $3 per household per month storm water fee would be considered positively in the scoring of the town’s grant application to OCRA.
While no one on the council voiced opposition to a flat $3 monthly fee per household, the hangup appears to be with funding fairness for larger buildings with non-pervious (paved) driveways and parking.
No action was taken on establishing a storm water utility fee.
In other business, the town agreed to transfer ownership of the town-owned fire station to the newly established Vernon Township Fire District on September 1.
There was lengthy discussion on how to bill the fire district for water at the station. Currently, the fire department pays no water bill.
Both town and fire officials agree that water for fire trucks to fight fires should not be billed. And both officials agree that the fire department uses only minimal water during fundraisers and during the normal course of operation.
At issue is how the town water utility should be compensated for the water used by the fire department when they fill up swimming pools during about a 3-month period in the summer.
After 40 minutes of discussion, both sides agreed that the pool filling season had drawn to a close and that a decision on the matter could be handled before the 2017 pool season.
In budget making matters for 2017, the council agreed to give Police officers Chris Cooper and J.L. McElfresh and town utility worker Nick Tatlock a one dollar an hour raise. All other employees will receive a 25¢ an hour wage increase in 2017.
The council agreed to keep their own salaries and that of the clerk-treasurer the same as this year.
In a final matter, the town may be on its way to establishing a Redevelopment Commission which would receive its funding through a yet to be established TIF district. TIF stands for Tax Increment Financing and is generally levied on industrial property.
“It would mean no property tax increase for the residents of Crothersville,” Robinson said.
He said he had talked with five people necessary to establish a Redevelopment Commission and they had verbally agreed to serve. He said Mark Adams, Geoffrey Walker, Ralph Hillenburg, Jared Sporleder, Charlie Densford and have said they would serve on the commission.
A Redevelopment Commission can help fund matters like storm water and sanitary sewer expansions and can help fund downtown revitalization efforts.