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.