The Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs placed an early lump of coal in the Crothersville Christmas stocking when it was announced at last week’s Town Council meeting that the community had been turned down for a grant for $998,280 which would have improved storm water drainage.
Trena Carter with Administrative Resources association in Columbus told the council she received the denial in a email just prior to the council meeting.
The project would have included the installation of a storm sewer along Park Avenue from Hominy Ditch to Howard Street, then turning on Howard Street to run to Kovener Street.
New concrete box culverts would be installed at Bethany Road and Park Avenue, and obstructions would be removed from Hominy Ditch (the town’s primary surface water drainage) from Preston Street to the west side of town to improve water flow.
The cost of the project had been estimated at $1,109,200 and the town would have had to come up with 10% of the cost or $110,920 which would have been paid from the water and sewer depreciation funds.
With the bad news, Carter said the town’s alternative to seek other grant funding. “But those grants are for 50% of the project funding, not 90% like OCRA,” she said.
In other matters, the council decided to seek approval of a permit from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) to replace a sanitary sewer lift station on Seymour Road.
Town sewer superintendent Mason Boicourt told the council that IDEM is aware of the problems at the lift station on the north part of town but the town has not received a violation letter.
The engineer’s estimate to replace the lift station, which is old, built with older technology, and is difficult to maintain, is around $140,000.
Boicourt said the town should first seek a permit from IDEM to replace the lift station. “That will show IDEM that we are being pro-active with the problem. The permit would be good for two years which should give the town time to figure out how to pay for the replacement,” he said.
By 2-1 votes with council president Ardell Mitchell casting the dissenting votes, the council approved buying a 2015 Case backhoe for $69,519 and hiring Nick Tatlock as a new town worker.
Mitchell said his votes were not that he was opposed to the purchase of the backhoe or hiring a needed worker, but he felt that decision should have rested with the new five member town council that takes office January 1.
After hiring Tatlock for $13.50 an hour, councilman Lenvel ‘Butch’ Robinson said the council “needs to find a way to pay our employees more money so they don’t use their work time with Crothersville as training and a stepping off point to go to work for some place else at a hirer wage.”
In two final matters, the council approved writing off $4,824 in unpaid water bills from 14 properties in town. Clerk-Treasurer Terry Richey said that bills were owed by renters who left town owing the bills and cannot be located and through death of the resident. “This doesn’t mean the debts are forgiven. If the people who moved ever come back to town to live we are keeping a list and will require payment of the unpaid bill before we will turn on their water,” she said.
Brad Bender of the town’s engineering firm FPBH of North Vernon said his firm had completed the study of streets the town maintains and 2.26 miles of paved roads have been added to the Crothersville inventory. “The state compensates the town for road money based on how many miles of streets the town maintains,” said Bender. “The town should be receiving from $1,500 to $2,000 more per mile from the state as a result of the additional miles.”
He said that over the years roads have been built (Industrial Way extension most recently) and that annexation of the town added streets but they were overlooked to be added to the town inventory to report to the state.