Town Considering Increasing Stormwater Utility Fees For Non-Residential Properties

Non-residential properties in Crothersville with over 10,000 square feet of roof or non-permiable paving could see an increase in the newly established stormwater utlility fees if a proposed rates structure is approved by the town council at their April meeting.
The stormwater utility fee was established last year and set at $3 per property owner. At the time, the council agreed to survey non-residential property and establish a higher rate for larger areas of roof or paved surfaces.
The town established the utility to pay for ditching and culverts to improve surface water drainage in town. The establishment of the stormwater utility fee was a factor that helped gained approval in December of a state grant to clean out the west end of hominy ditch (the main east-west drainageway in town) and to install enlarged culverts at Bethany Road, Park Avenue and Kovener Street to improve drainage after heavy rains.
Reviewing non-residential properties inside the town limits, the council is proposing to increase the stormwater utility fee for the following properties with roofs and/or paving in the following sizes and amounts:
•10,000-60,000 sq. ft., $12/month
•60,000-160,000 sq. ft., $24/month
•160,000-260,000 sq. ft., $48/month
•260,000-360,000 sq. ft., $96/month
•Over 360,000 sq. ft., $144/month
According to the town officials’ calculations, there are 15 properties in the 10,000 to 60,000 sq. ft. category, none in the second category, one in the 160,000 to 260,000 category, one in the 260,000-360,000 category, and three in the over 260,000 square foot category.
The council will consider approving the rates at second reading of the ordinance at their April 4 meeting.
In a related matter town utility supervisors advised the council that now that the stormwater fee is established and the payments to improve surface water drainage are accumulating, the town needs to be prepared to begin cleaning area ditches and installing culverts.
“The biggest complaint we have is about standing water,” said water superintendent Chris Mains.
“We are collecting around $2,400 a month in the stormwater utility fee fund,” said wastewater superintendent Mason Boicourt. “With spring rains coming, we need to be prepared to do ditching and have culverts on hand to install.”
The utility workers recommended purchasing a small excavator with a shallow ditch bucket for cleaning ditches and installing culverts.
Boicourt said a small Case excavator on rubber tracks can be purchased for $55,000 and leased for just under $1,600 a month for three years.
The council approved the lease for the local utility work.
An amendment to a local dog and cat ordinance was approved without comment from the public. The matter had been one of considerable concern and discussion at town council meetings and on social media.
Owners of dogs who bite or attack people or other animals will now face a one-strike and out ordinance. Owners of dogs who cause bodily harm, even if they get loose from a fenced yard, home or leash, will have top remove the animal from the town limits after one offense.
The council heard updates on activities by the police department, town engineer, and the local parks board.
Crothersville Police Capt. J.L. McElfresh said that two of the town’s new police vehicles have had emergency equipment installed and are in service. McElfresh has been busy installing the equipment to save the town money.
“We expect to have all four vehicles on the road by March 20,” he said. “While we have the police station, our cars are our offices.”
He said that last month the department received 123 calls of which about 20% dealt with suspicious person or activity.
“Residents are watching out the their neighborhood and calling us with information,” he said.
Brad Bender, engineer with FPBH, reported that survey work is in process for the recently approved $500,000 stormwater grant to clean and improve water flow on the west end of Hominy Ditch.
The council ok’d spending $7,000 for new playground equipment at the Bard Street Park. The equipment will include swings, merry-go-round, log roll, and see-saw.
Also approved was spending $1,750 to repair the concession stand at the Countryside Park on th west side of town.
In other matters, the council
•Approved continuing sharing in the Local Option Income Tax (LOIT) with Jackson County. Originally the inter-local agreement began in the 1990’s to help pay for the county jail, according to town attorney Jeff Lorenzo. Now that the county is beginning construction of a new judicial center to house all three courts, they want the town to continue with the 25% contribution to help pay for the court construction costs.
“This is not a new fee,” said Lorenzo. “The town has been contributing it for over 20 years.”
“We are already doing it and all of the four city and towns in the county take part,” said councilman Bob Lyttle.
•Reminded residents that the town water rates will increase 1% with the next billing cycle. The automatic annual small increases were approved several years ago rather than keep rate stagnant and then have double digit percentage increases
•Re-appointed Matt Browning to the town parks board.