NEW WHITELAND TOWN COUNCIL
September 16, 2008
Town Council President John Perrin opened the meeting at 7:00 p.m. with the pledge to the American flag. Council members present were John Perrin, Joe Noonan, Terry Spencer and Scott Alspach. Also present were Clerk-Treasurer Maribeth Alspach, Attorney Lee Robbins and Department Heads Brian Hedrick, Jim Lasiter, Ed Stephenson and Office Manager Cindy Yates. Councilman Harris was absent. Councilman Alspach offered the opening prayer.
Councilman Spencer moves to approve the minutes of the September 2nd meeting and is seconded by Councilman Noonan. Vote 4 affirmative.
HARDSHIPS / ADJUSTMENTS
Unison Contract Closing
President Perrin states that he and Clerk-Treasurer Alspach attended the closing in Attorney Robbins office along with a representative of Unison, Jack Squier. During that meeting it was discovered that New Whiteland was being charged $215.00 in closing costs. This was never discussed or agreed to. President Perrin advised Mr. Squier that this would require council approval. The $215.00 will be taken out of the $85,000.00 negotiated lease amount. Attorney Robbins states $200.00 is half of the required escrow amount and the other $15.00 is a transfer tax. President Perrin states that the cost to re-write the closing documents and involve our attorney may be equal or greater than the $215.00. Councilman Spencer moves to approve the $215.00 closing costs and is seconded by Councilman Noonan. Vote 4 affirmative.
Drainage Issue at Country Gate
Jim Lasiter has been contacted by CP Morgan asking that the Performance Bond that was posted for this project be released. Jim states that the work has been completed and he has notified both CP Morgan and Schneider Engineering of their share of the cost to complete the project. Each of these entities will reimburse the town $3,300.00. Jim will send a letter to the Attorney asking him to release the bond.
Chief Hedrick states the storage barn for their training supplies has been ordered. The barn is 10’ x 20’ and will have white siding like the Fire Station. The repair work on the car has been completed. Their new computers were installed at the Fire Station today.
Temporary Parking Permits
President Perrin suggests creating a procedure to issue temporary parking permits for residents who are replacing their driveways. Perrin states that residents are not allowed to park on new driveways for 10 – 14 days while the concrete or asphalt “cures”. After much discussion the following criteria is suggested:
Parking permits are only available to qualified residents who have a current driveway permit.
Permit is good for maximum of 14 days – dates will be printed on the permit.
Permits are not renewable.
No more than 1 parking permit will be issued per year.
Permit will list make, model, year, color and license plate info for the vehicle it is being
Permit must be displayed on the vehicle dashboard – clearly visible to the public and the
police officers. If not displayed properly vehicle will be ticketed – no exceptions.
September 16, 2008
Temporary Parking Permits (con’t.)
No more than four (4) parking permits allowed per building permit.
Permits will cost $2.00 each (per vehicle).
Residents must still obey all other traffic / parking laws – cannot park near fire hydrants,
intersections, on sidewalks, etc.
Attorney Robbins will prepare a draft ordinance for the council to review.
Water Utility Proposed Sale Talking Points
Jeff Birk, of BGBC Partners has met twice with Jeff Henson and representatives of Indiana American. Jeff, Attorney Robbins, PW Supt. Lasiter and Clerk-Treasurer Alspach also met to discuss issues that should be addressed if a potential sale is going to be considered.
Jeff presents the following options:
1) Continue purchasing water from Indiana American under current contract
2) Drill test wells – produce our own water if possible
3) Purchase water from an alternate source
4) Sell the water utility
Jeff asks the council if the utility were to be sold, how the proceeds would be used.
Jeff has projected the costs to rate payers, based on engineer estimates, to build our own water plant. Jeff believes the increase would be in the 35 – 40% range. Jeff noted that the existing bond debt from the water tower and water lines will pay off in 2012. The bond principal and Interest payments run about $85,000.00 a year. If we wait until then to build the plant the rate increase would be much less.
President Perrin asks the time frame needed to drill a test well. PW Supt. Lasiter states that he met with representatives of Bastin Logan and the geologist that did the original report on the aquifer near Proctor Park. In this meeting they would not commit to the earlier statement that there was an adequate supply of water in that location to sustain a water plant and produce enough water to service our customer base for the next 20 years. PW Supt. Lasiter believes there is plenty of water available in an area east of New Whiteland which would open the possibility of additional customers. Lasiter believes that project would require acquiring land and right of ways before drilling the wells, building the plant and the necessary water lines and would take 10 – 15 years to complete. Lasiter adds that Clerk-Treasurer Alspach was able to obtain an executed copy of our contract with Indiana American. After reviewing the contract it is not as restrictive as Lasiter believed it to be. We can give written notice to Indiana American that we wish to get out of the contract and then renegotiate if necessary. PW Supt. Lasiter states if we give notice of our intent to break the contract we are obligated to continue to purchase water for another five (5) years. Within that 5 year period we could explore our other options. Attorney Robbins states there is no guarantee how flexible Indiana American will be in negotiations. A lot will be dependent on what Bargersville or Indianapolis Water has available in 5 years or if we have a test well that we want to pursue. Robbins adds that he does not believe from a business standpoint they would turn away our customer base.
President Perrin states that after much consideration he has two (2) major concerns; there is no plan for how the proceeds of the sale would be used and the level of customer service would not be what our residents have come to expect.
Jeff Birk states that he believes the powers that be at Indiana American will probably come back with a figure that is closer to the amount we anticipated this time. Birk adds that the level of service being provided by Supt. Lasiter and his crew far exceeds what is normal in today’s world. The council needs to consider what will happen if and when Lasiter retires. How will he be replaced and how will the level of service provided be affected? Birk also notes that it is time to look at our water rates. New Whiteland’s rates are currently lower than Indiana American’s and we have depleted most of our operating expense revenues. Within a year or so we will barely be breaking even so there will be no money available for repairs and / or additions or upgrades to the system.
Supt. Lasiter states Indiana American set the deadline for the Town to make this decision is their original contract. We have not authorized appraisals so they have not invested any major expense in exploring purchasing our utility up to this point. Lasiter adds that in 1998 Ball State did a phone
September 16, 2008
Water Purchase Talking Points (con’t.)
survey and residents reportedly stated that a Community Center was a priority and that they would be willing to pay more taxes to have one. At one point the sale of the Water Utility might have funded the purchase of a Community Center but Lasiter is not sure that with today’s economic climate people would still feel the same way. Lasiter adds that if we don’t notify Indiana American by January 2009 of our intent to cancel the contract we will be locked in for another 50 years.
Lasiter adds he probably has 3 men that will retire within the next 3 years. He just hired a new employee to replace a man that recently resigned. The new employee is a certified mechanic. Lasiter has a good team of employees who would be able to step in and do parts of his job if necessary.
Councilman Alspach states that with all of this information to consider there is no way that he believes the council could make a decision in 90 days. Birk agrees. He states it would be better to cancel the contract and renegotiate rather than make a rushed or bad decision that we may live to regret. Birk will approach Indiana American and ask for a 12 to 24 month extension in the deadline for our decision. If Jeff Hanson reports that they are not inclined to offer the extension we will cancel the contract.
Councilman Spencer asks what kind of repairs are needed or anticipated. Lasiter states the main water line for the water tower runs directly underneath the Town Hall offices. He has contractors coming in this week to look at capping that line and connecting the line on Parkview to the tower instead. There is an ongoing replacement program to replace water meters, they are currently replacing the old meters with manually read meters but will eventually go to the radio read meters. Lasiter has been approved to hire an additional employee for over a year but has delayed doing so in case the utility was going to be sold. He will now proceed with filling that vacant position.
Johnson County Citizens Against Substance Abuse
Clerk-Treasurer Alspach presents a letter from this entity asking that she consider serving on their board. Some of the meetings may be within the regular work day hours of the town offices. President Perrin states that with the size of the staff and Alspach’s current commitments he would prefer that she not take on this additional responsibility. Council agrees.
Councilman Spencer asks if the Town sustained any damage during last weekend’s high winds. PW Supt. Lasiter states that we lost a square of shingles on the shelter house at Proctor Park and a small amount of siding was lost on the Fire Station. Marshal Stephenson adds there were several tree limbs down in the streets. Clerk-Treasurer Alspach notes several residents were without electricity for 1 -2 days. Marshal Stephenson notes both the Police and the Fire departments respond to any calls involving residents who are on oxygen and have lost their electricity. Fire Chief Hedrick states he would like to find grant money to purchase portable generators that would be available if necessary for future storm events.
President Perrin asks Marshal Stephenson for a status report on the Disaster Plan. Stephenson says he has not been able to meet with Tug Sutton due to trying to find a time when Stephenson, Hedrick and Sutton are all available. Stephenson notes as soon as they can schedule that meeting, he, Hedrick and Lasiter will write a draft copy of the plan for the council to review. Stephenson anticipates the plan being 10 pages long – it will be fairly basic and direct.
Marshal Stephenson states the response to the ad for the police officer was overwhelming. They have several good applicants. They have narrowed the field down to 18 candidates and will be conducting the written test on October 6th. Stephenson hopes to have someone hired and ready to begin employment by the first pay period in January.
September 16, 2008
Fire Chief Brian Hedrick states he has enough money left in his budget to add Paid Standby coverage on weekends for the rest of this year beginning November 1st. Hedrick would like to schedule 2 firefighters per day for 8 hours each. Hedrick adds that he has budgeted 2 Paid Standby positions at 8 hours per day x 365 days for 2009. It is noted that there have been a couple of weekend calls where there were not enough firefighters to respond. Chief Hedrick states that we have inter-local agreements in place and another agency always responds if we can’t. Our residents have full protection. Councilman Alspach asks how many are currently on the Fire Department’s roster. Hedrick states 18. Hedrick proposes that the Paid Standby hours be 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Monday – Friday and 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. on weekends. President Perrin suggests allowing a 2 month trial with the money already budgeted for November and December 2008. Perrin states there is no guarantee that we will be able to continue to fund weekend coverage in 2009. Council approves 2 month trial period.
Clerk-Treasurer Alspach reads the transfer ordinance and explains on first reading. Motion to adopt by Councilman Alspach with second by Councilman Noonan. Vote 4 affirmative.
Member Noonan moves to suspend the rules and consider the ordinance on final reading. Member Alspach seconds the motion. Vote 4 affirmative.
Clerk-Treasurer Alspach reads the transfer ordinance in title only on final reading. Councilman Spencer moves to approve on final reading and is seconded by Councilman Noonan. Vote 4 affirmative.
Clerk-Treasurer Alspach reads the ordinance and explains on first reading. This ordinance allows a temporary loan from the Wastewater Utility to the General Fund in the amount of $100,000.00 until we receive our tax distribution. Motion to adopt by Councilman Spencer with second by Councilman Alspach. Vote 4 affirmative.
Member Alspach moves to suspend the rules and consider the ordinance on final reading. Member Spencer seconds the motion. Vote 4 affirmative.
Clerk-Treasurer Alspach reads the transfer ordinance in title only on final reading. Motion to adopt by Councilman Noonan with second by Councilman Alspach. Vote 4 affirmative.
Clerk-Treasurer Alspach thanks Office Manager Yates for filling in for her at the last council meeting.
OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
Being no other business the meeting was adjourned at 8:30 p.m.
Maribeth Alspach, Clerk- Treasurer
John Perrin, President