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Dec 08 2008

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November Town Council Minutes

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TOWN OF NORTH SALEM COUNCIL MEETING

November 6, 2008

 

 

Roll Call:

William J. Woodrum, Council President, Present

Mike Russell, Council Vice-President, Present

Michael L. Selch, Council Member, Present

Cheryl Russell, Clerk-Treasurer, Present

 

In Attendance:

Harold Blake, Town Attorney

Don Perry, Town Marshall

Mark Basham

Beth Russell

Keith Huffer

Woody Woodrum

Patty Woodrum

Ron Astin

Donna Astin

David Jordan

Kathleen Frederick

Stephen Harris

Deb Woodrum

 

The meeting was called to order by the Council President at 6:01 P.M.

 

Billy thanked those in attendance and asked for citizen input.  Kathleen Frederick voiced her concern over the outrageous surcharge and criticized the Board for not keeping up with the times regarding the water rates.  She is unhappy with how things have been handled.  She also had a suggestion in regards to the Sam Robinson funeral viewing.  The Town Marshall was asked to be present in order to prevent certain persons from attending, per the family’s request.  Kathleen doesn’t think that this is fair, since Sam’s other daughters did not get to pay their final respects.  Billy responded that Donnie was on duty, he was asked to be there, and he was serving the citizens, per the family’s request.  What Kathleen is asking has nothing to do with the Town, except for Donnie’s time.  Harold explained that legally, Porter Funeral Home is considered private property, and if the people who rented out that space have a specific request for certain people to be deemed trespassers, he has a legal obligation to see that the law is upheld.

 

Dave Jordan asked if the town had a vacation policy for the water.  He is gone 4 months out of the year, and wants to know if he could have the water turned off when he leaves, and turned back on when he comes back.  Mark indicated that there is a $50.00 turn-on fee.  He also said that in 1988 he had his house surveyed, and was told that he was 3 feet into the alley, which makes him 7 feet off.  Billy said that this issue was discussed several years ago, and Harold had recommended that it be surveyed again.  Dave then asked what

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would happen if he had it resurveyed and it is still 7 feet off.  Harold said that if we have a situation where the house has been built in a legal alley, we aren’t going to take any action to have the house torn down; however, we also probably won’t vacate the alley either, but that would be the Board’s decision.  Harold suggested using a different surveyor, because depending on where they started, they could be off by that much.

 

The minutes from the October 2, 2008 meeting were approved as written.

 

Billy then moved discussion to the water rate situation.  We had a study done by Ron and Donna Astin, who are both retired State Board of Accounts auditors.  A workshop was held recently to discuss what our expenses are compared to what we actually need to keep running the water and sewage.  As explained before, we are in the hole with our sewage; our water looks a little bit better, but we are not gaining any ground as far as making anything either.  Our big problem is that every fall we have bonds that are due for our sewage plant that comes to the amount of about $25,000.00.  We have to make at least enough money to pay that.  Donna explained that if the Board goes with what they are recommending, the average person that uses 3,500 gallons is not going to see a big increase on top of what they are paying right now (with the surcharge); it would be around a $17.00 increase. They would be paying $9.45 for every thousand gallons of water used.  (See the attached report, along with a 5 year plan).  Billy said that they need to decide what to do.  If they go with what Ron and Donna are recommending, the charges are pretty much going to double.  Ron added that even with this increase, residents would still be paying less than towns around us.  Donna also said that the town has been grossly underpaying for many years.  Harold let everyone know that approximately 18 years ago when the Town opted out of the IURC, and there was talk then of raising the rates.  This building was packed with 60-70 people that night, and it pretty much scared the Town Council members away from an increase, and that’s how it’s stayed all the years since then.  Ron said that if we don’t do this, the State is going to take over the utilities and raise the rates themselves, and nobody will have anything to say about it, and they will be even higher than what is being proposed.  Mike Selch suggested that we go with the lower rates, and then take a look at things every 6 months for the next 2 years.  Mike Russell agreed with Mike S., but thought that maybe we could even go a little lower than what the lowest recommended rate was.  He has been running some figures from home, and thinks that we would be okay with a little bit lower.  Donna said that our biggest problem is the small number of people that we have living here.  We need to grow the town, either through annexation or attracting people to live here.  Ron was concerned that we would have trouble covering the bills at anything lower than what he has shown us.  Billy said that the bottom line is that we need to cover these bonds.  Mike Selch added that another thing that plays into this on the wastewater is the sludge removal.  If we can work our way to getting a settling pond, that would cut about $15,000.00 a year off of that sludge charge.  We’ve got the property, if we can just get a grant and the funding to get the drain line down there and get that in operation.  With all

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of this being said, Mike S. made a motion to go with a .90 (cent) water rate and $1.40 sewer rate, then take another look at it in 6 months.  Billy seconded.  It passed unanimously.

 

Billy made a motion for a minimum charge of $10.00 (5/8”x3/4” meter).  Mike S. seconded.

 

Billy made a motion for $175.00 hydrant rental (per hydrant) that the Town pays every year to the water utility.  Mike R. seconded.  It passed unanimously.

 

Billy made a motion for a $40.00 fire suppression charge per month (the school pays this fee).  Mike S. seconded.

 

The Board discussed imposing a $100.00 surcharge for those using town water, but not living within the corporate limits.  Mike R. doesn’t think its right to annex people.  The Board agreed that they needed to discuss this further at a later date, and not incorporate in the proposed ordinance. 

 

Mark then asked about minimum charges and whether or not there would be a minimum charge on just water, or just sewer or both.  Harold said there would need to be a minimum charge on both.  Billy made a motion for a $30.00 minimum for those customers who have sewage only; Mike S. seconded; motion passed unanimously.  Mike S. made a motion for a minimum sewer charge of $1.40 per 100 gallons used or $14.00 per 1,000; Billy seconded and motion passed unanimously. 

 

Billy made a motion for a minimum sewer charge of $15.00 for customers who use less than 1,000 gallons per month.  Mike R. seconded and motion passed unanimously. 

 

The new Ordinance will be voted on at December meeting. 

 

Harold stated that in the sewer part of the old ordinance there was a separate section per customer charges.  All metric charges per 1,000 gallons.  Ron Stinson said that those charges were never used.  There was a rate built in for customer cost, debt service, and operation maintenance. 

 

Harold recapped the ordinance – he will get the ordinance in a form that can be voted on at the December meeting.  And if there are three votes to approve it at the December meeting then it will become effective immediately.   The rate on the water is $9.00 per 1,000 gallons; the minimum charge is $10.00 per month.  For the fire suppression system (over head sprinkler system) that is $40.00 per month.  The fire protection rate for fire hydrants is $175.00 per hydrant/per year.  The sewer rate is $14.00 per 1,000 gallons of

 

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water usage.  The minimum charge would be $15.00 for those with a meter and $30.00 without a meter.  There was a section for users that specifically don’t have a water meter – that based on the size of the service connection that no such charge would be less than the corresponding monthly water – we’ll change that.  The surcharge will be taken out.

The way the ordinance is drafted it goes into effect immediately to be billed the next billing cycle. 

 

The Board thanked Ron and Donna Astin for their help.

 

Doug Clodfelter, Wastewater Superintendent, has agreed to keep his present contract, the way it was written last year.  His salary will stay the same for 2009.  The Board will sign his contract tonight.

 

Mark talked to the Board about ordering a chart recorder from Heritage Lake for the sewer plant.  Heritage Lake will sell the recorder to the town for $700.00.  Also, when the inspector was out Doug was written up for not having an alarm dialer.  There is a red light at the lift station and the inspector said that wasn’t good enough.   They want to use one dialer for each place.  It will call Mark and Doug.  They want a dialer with a two minute delay.  At the wastewater plant there’s never a problem that couldn’t wait until the morning.   Mike R. asked for clarification of what a chart recorder does.  Mark explained that it is chart that has to be changed every month and it shows wastewater usage peeks as it comes in and we have to have it.  Billy made a motion to purchase the chart recorder for $700.00 from Heritage Lake.  Mike S. seconded the motion.  Mark said that Doug will check with Heritage Lake on the dialers. 

 

Mark also mentioned a back wash pond (detention pond).  Mark said that it’s a catch 22.  Now he has gotten the arsenic out of the water but sending it to the backwash water at the wastewater plant, which makes Doug’s level go up too high to put  on the fields.  That’s why hauling sludge has gone up so much.  Now we have to have Sprague from Ladoga come over and pump sludge into their tank and drive it to the south side of Indianapolis, dump it in that wastewater plant, because they’re big enough to handle it.  It is costing approximately $400.00 a load and they took 10 loads last time.  It can’t be land applied because the arsenic is too high.  Mark said that Doug is going to speak to IDEM and explain the problem and see if we can put in a holding pond.  In the long run it will save a lot of money from hauling sludge, which is a big expense.  Mark gave the Board a copy of Doug’s inspection to show what was said about the dialer, etc. 

 

Mike R. asked Mark about his neighbors George and Peggy Ford.  They have family that has pulled an RV in.  They’re going to spend 3-4 months with them then they’re going to Florida.  They want to know if they can run a sewer line from the lot they purchased from Lyon’s and hook it into their sewer and also run a metered outside hose bib so

 

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they can have water and sewer.  Mark said they could put a meter back in there and there’s also a sewer line.  Instead of running from his.  The utilities are there and they just need to hook it up and meter it.  The RV is nice and there is stone in the drive.  They can file for a temporary variance, it doesn’t cost that much.  Then they won’t have to worry about someone complaining.  If they decide to go ahead with a hook up there would be a deposit required of $100.00 because it would be considered a rental.  Mike R. and Mark will find them to explain the situation to them.  Everyone knows that this will be temporary.

 

Harold reported that he received a check on the Mitchell noise ordinance violation after the property was sold.  He gave the check to Cheryl to deposit.  The bank bought both properties.  There is much improvement in the property.

 

Mike S. said that John Berry, fire chief, called with a problem with the west vent – the vent system that lets diesel fumes out when the door is open it leaks water and the air apparatus has to be covered with a tarp and wanted to know if something can be done about it.  He and Mark talked about it and wanted to see if Doug Frazier could fix it. 

 

The fire department has plans on loaning Mike the television and DVD player for the bean supper to play a video CD with a bunch of old pictures on it.  That is Saturday night, November 8.  Mike also found out that the sign that is on the corner of 236 and 75 is now at the corner of South California Street and 236.  John Gossett from the Christian Church  will be taking care of it.

 

Mike talked about the web site.  Mike and Cheryl had given approval for up to $500.00 and Mike received the bill including a year of hosting through September 2009 and it was $176.00.  Mike asked about a counter and there’s a way internally that he can get to it and Mike received the password and we’ve had 316 hits to locate that web site and 191 people have been on it and read the web site since mid-October.  It has a link for Old Fashion Days, it has a link for the North Salem Police Department and there will be a link for the 175 Celebration.  Someone asked who did the web site and Mike said that it is Scott Henry from Hosting Truth, the same company who did OFD.   Later on we’ll add things like Beasley’s, Mike has added the Ham and Bean supper, the October minutes will go on tomorrow, he put an article on about how we got into the situation with the water and sewer rates and we’ll eventually we’ll have archives where it will have the Town Council minutes and local events.  There is a place on the web site  to leave comments and as long as there are no comments Mike doesn’t do anything but if there is comment then he sees if it worth posting on so we don’t have people log on a leave things on there that they shouldn’t. 

 

Kathy Frederick is the President of the Lions Club.  North Salem has been moved to Lizton.  And Since Pittsboro lost their charter, also they support Northwest Hendricks

 

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County School System.  They do dances for 6th, 7th, and 8th graders and they have Christmas baskets for needy families.  Mike S. said that the 175 Committee would like to see community involvement.  The Lions Club is trying to support everybody.

 

Mike R. wanted to know if Trick or Treating is really necessary from 6:00 – 9:00 P.M.

He thinks 6 to 8 P.M. is better.  Mike asked Donnie what he thought and he thought two hours is plenty of time. 

 

Cheryl brought before the Board the Maintenance Agreement with Komputrol.  This agreement is over $1,900.00.    We no longer want Komputrol software.  Billy made a motion to not pay the agreement fee and Mike R. seconded the motion.  Cheryl will call Komputrol tomorrow and let them know.   

 

Cheryl presented the invoice for the new Greentree software.  They need 25% (that is $3,093. 69) down before training can begin.  Greentree agreed to bill us in January 2009 if a letter was written requesting this.  This letter will be sent tomorrow with the 25% down check and training will be scheduled thereafter.  Their first year maintenance agreement is free. 

 

Mike S. mentioned cleaning the back room (garage).  Mark is going to see if he can find a document with the old town seal.   Harold suggested that we check with the State Board of Accounts before we throw away any old receipts.  And the copier is in bad shape and maybe after the first of the year replace it.      

 

There was a call from someone wanting information about the street planters and Tom Eggers’ name was given to that person because he was very involved with the streetscape.

 

Billy stated that we have lost a fine citizen this week in our community and he asked that we keep the Robinson family in our prayers.

 

There being no further business the meeting was adjourned at 7:52 P.M.

____________________________________

William J. Woodrum, Council President

____________________________________

Mike Russell, Council Vice-President

____________________________________

Michael L. Selch, Council Member

 

Attest: Approved at the December 4, 2008 Council Meeting

____________________________________

Cheryl Russell, Clerk-Treasurer      

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