Planning Priorities, Office Issues Occupy Town Council

Prioritizing a recently completed Crothersville Comprehensive Plan appears to be fraught with divided opinions as much as how to operate the town hall office, the local town council discovered when they met March 4.

A group of volunteers working with a consultant last year formulated a Comprehensive Plan for Crothersville listing improvements members of the community viewed as important. The resulting list of “action items”, described by council president Ardell Mitchell need prioritized so that the town can begin to make the implementation of the plan more manageable.

The top priority, though not unanimous, by the council is establishing a second access road into the town’s industrial park. Currently the only way into the industrial area that is home to Aisin Drivetrain, Aisin Chemical, and Cerro Wire, is off US 31 and across the ILRC railroad.

And that rail crossing is the concern. ILRC has announced that there will be more and more train traffic as their business continues to pickup. In the event of a train derailment at the crossing or a train-vehicle accident, employees have no way out and emergency vehicles have no way in.

The town is in discussion with local industry and county economic development officials to determine a solution to the issue.

Other top priorities listed by the council included re-establishing a town parks board, hiring a town manager to oversee the day-to-day operation of the town, and establishing a capital projects and funding plan for future improvements.

Trina Carter, of Administrative Resource association which handles the town’s grant writing, suggested that a team of graduate students from Indiana University could consider Crothersville as their capstone project.

“It would give the town some no-cost assistance in developing and funding capital projects,” she said. The council voted unanimously for Carter to begin making contacts with IU to determine the interest and feasibility of the student project in Crothersville.

The matter of operating and paying personnel to run to the town hall office was again on the council’s agenda.

In January former clerk-treasurer Michele Teipen resigned her elected post citing a move outside the town limits. Terry Richey was appointed as clerk-treasurer and appointed Teipen as her first deputy. Richey is opting to remain employed as Crothersville Community Schools treasurer and be a part-time town clerk-treasurer at the current salary of $9,500 a year.

The council, in an effort to have a say in who oversees the office, instructed town-attorney Jeff Lorenzo to formulate a “Separation of Duties” ordinance which gives the council not the clerk, approval in naming an office manager.

Historically, the clerk-treasurer has also been named as office manager and was paid around $32,000 annually with the two combined salaries.

“The separation of duties ordinance will give the council flexibility and options in 2016 (when a new council and clerk-treasurer terms begin),” said President Mitchell.

But councilman Lenvel ‘Butch’ Robinson, the lone Democrat on the council, questioned if viable candidates could be found to run for clerk-treasurer if it were just a part-time position.

“Right now there are just two workers in the office (the first and second deputy), said Robinson. “Do we really need an office manager for a two person office?”

When brought to a vote, the council voted along party lines 2-1 to approve first reading of the separation of duties ordinance. When Mitchell made a motion to suspend the rules to allow for passage of the ordinance at that meeting, the vote was the same. However, to suspend the rules requires a unanimous vote. Therefore the separation of duties ordinance will again be a topic of the council at their April meeting.

By the same 2-1 vote, the council approved raising Teipen’s wages from $13.41 to $14 an hour.

In voting against the measure, Robinson said, “This is not the time of year we pass out raises.”

In other business, Mitchell reported that the town is obtaining proposals to replace the exterior metal siding and roof at the town barn near the water tower.

The building, it was previously pointed out, does not comply with the town’s own derelict building law.

“We are getting cost proposals which will be available at the May council meeting,” said Mitchell. “ At that point we need to decide whether to fix it or tear it down.”

•Local businesswoman and Crothersville Lions Club member Brenda Holzworth, noting that among the Crothersville Comprehensive Plan action items was improvements at the Bard Street Park, told the council that the Lions Club wants to assist in any park improvements as a club project.

•Holzworth also re-issued her call from previous years on expanding the number on the town council from three to five members. “It would help keep having one person make the decision as we have seen here tonight,” she said.