Ferdinand Town Council: Water rate hike coming

It was a jam-packed meeting Tuesday night, the first of the new year and the inaugural session for Clerk-Treasurer Tammy Miller, chosen to replace 30 year clerk-treasurer and 40 year town employee Bev Schulthise.

Schulthise was honored at meeting’s end with an engraved silver platter. Glass coffee cups etched with the town logo were gifted as well.

First the bad news. Fortunately, it’s not too bad.

After holding steady for nine years, council members recognized the need for a water rate increase. The accounting firm of HJ Umbaugh completed a rate study in April of last year and determined different options based on needs within the water department. Alternate one called for a 12% increase, which would add $91,600 per annum.

Expenses over the past year depleted reserves. Electric and Water Superintendent Steve Becher provided a five year schedule of needs to bring the department back to snuff, including a new storage building. His cost estimate totaled $610,500. Dividing that by five, an increase of $122,100 per year is needed, so a bit more than 12%.

Town Attorney Bill Shaneyfelt will analyze the numbers and return with a figure that will net the necessary funds, be that 13, 14, 15, or possibly 16%.

For comparison purposes, an average usage of 4,000 gallons per month is now billed at $28.91. The 12% increase would move that monthly figure to $32.98, or a $4.07 increase. The actual amount will be slightly higher. When the study was completed last April, Umbaugh shared average monthly costs in neighboring communities and the City of Jasper was then charging $34.91 for 4,000 gallons. Shaneyfelt noted Ferdinand’s will still be one of the lowest in the region.

Once the determination is made, it will take a couple of months to work through the required process to change the rates and then go through a full billing cycle before they take effect.

At 8 p.m. the council opened bids to pave 5th-8th and 13th-16th on Virginia Street, as well as 16th Street from Virginia to Main. Calcar Paving, Inc. (Jasper) was the low bidder at $59,080.45. The bids were taken under advisement and will be reviewed by Shaneyfelt and Property and Street Superintendent Tom Lueken, who was authorized to award the bid after review.

On the “more bad news” front, Wastewater Superintendent Roger Schaefer noted problems at the phosphorous plant, not with the plant itself, but with the gate and fence. The gate was laid out wrong, the poles have not all been set, concrete was poured in the wrong spot (just to name a few of the issues) and in Schaefer’s opinion the contractor, Graves Plumbing, rushed to meet the deadline. These are all warranty items that must be addressed and have been added to Schaefer’s punch list.

Councilwoman Debbie Johnson was especially concerned with the lack of a fence or gate, as gawkers have been driving through the facility. Schaefer was directed to add an orange safety fence or require Graves to put up a temporary fence to prevent access. Most of the punch list items will be addressed in spring.

Ready for some good news?

Fire Chief John Hoppenjans and assistant Luke Fleck reported on their recent trip to Louisiana where they visited the plant where the new pumper truck will be built. They went through the design item by item, then brought preliminary plans back to the broader committee to verify that everyone’s expectations had been met. After final confirmation, the vehicle will be built within 290 days.

The firefighters were given permission to begin trying to sell the old truck, making certain any buyer is aware it won’t be available immediately. Shaneyfelt suggested they try to sell it to another government entity because it simplifies the process.

More good news?

Park Board President Matt Weyer reported the contract has been fully executed for a $200,000 grant to develop the walking trail at the Old Lake. Universal Design is drafting the plans.

During his report Lueken said the tee boxes, posts and baskets had been installed for the disc golf course in 18th Street Park.

Weyer added that within 10 minutes it was in use. He said discs can be checked out from the Tri-County YMCA or purchased at All Star Sports. The project was totally funded by donations and sponsorships.

According to Town Manager Chris James, the Ferdinand Chamber is also kicking it into high gear for 2018. Working in conjunction with the Huntingburg Chamber they are planning a series of seminars starting January 30 at Current Blend with Launching Your Own Business.

Subsequent sessions include Funding Your Business in February, Legal Questions in March, Location, Location, Location in May, Marketing in July and concluding with an open panel discussion in September.

James also announced a special Homeland Security meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, February 20 at 7 p.m. at the Legion with Carl Deel, who will provide requirements for festivals and events. Reservations are requested but not required and can be made by contacting James at 812-367-2282 or cjames@ferdinandindiana.org or Sue Fink at 812-630-2839 or finkster@psci.net.

The council also:

•Learned of the death of 30-year retired firefighter Ed Oser, who served from July of 1969 to August of 1999.

•Reorganized for 2018, retaining Ken Sicard as president and Debbie Johnson as vice president.

•Learned from Chief Lloyd Froman that Officer Beau Anderson has been enrolled in the Southwest Indiana Law Enforcement Academy, Evansville, and will start February 1. The department will provide ammo and lunch (not to exceed $15 per day). Officer Tom Merkley will follow in July with the same provisions.

•Heard from Chief Hoppenjans the fire department handled four fire and nine First Responder runs in December.

•Learned the NASCAR Club donated $250 to the Police Department and the money will be used to purchase a body camera. Froman expressed his gratitude.

•Gave approval for Schaefer and two wastewater department members to attend the Alliance of Indiana Rural Water Spring Conference in French Lick March 14 and 15. The cost is $140 per person, plus transportation and meals.

•Will put Big Foot (the truck, not the rarely seen sasquatch) out for bids with bid opening in March.

•Agreed to pay $2,567.35, or half the price for a new fence separating town-owned property from that owned by Dave Rickelman. The town will purchase the materials to avoid sales tax and would pay for half a survey to determine the location. Rickelman will be responsible for installation.

•Authorized Lueken to price new ADA accessible front and back doors for the Senior Citizens Center.

•Signed contracts with Township Trustee Dave Kemper and the Township Advisory Board for use of the town’s parks plus fire protection, allowing Ferdinand Township residents to use the parks and the fire department to provide fire and emergency services. The township will pay $26,000 in two installments, $13,000 on June 30 and $13,000 on December 30 for the parks, and $36,000, also in two installments on the same dates, for fire protection. Both amounts were increased by $1,000 over 2017.

•Adopted three ordinances. Ordinance 2018-01 prohibits compression braking on semis from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. seven days a week. Ordinance 2018-02 allows off-road vehicles in town, except on Hwys. 162 and 264; however, these state roads may be crossed. Ordinance 2018-03 provides fines for violations, including the previous two ordinances. Using compression brakes will result in a $100 fine. Violation of the off-road vehicle ordinance will result in $25 for a first offense and $100 for a second offense within 30 days.

•Approved a Resolution to encumber $1,641 to pay EckMundy or a new computer for the town manager.

•Per the county commissioners, Sicard reappointed Dan Collignon to the Economic Development Commission, which was a good thing as he had been reelected president earlier in the evening during that body’s monthly meeting.

Due to a conflict with Shaneyfelt, the council will meet again in regular session on Tuesday, February 20 (the same night as the Homeland Security meeting). The BZA and Plan Commission will meet on Wednesday, January 24 at 6:30 and 7 p.m., respectively. The Park Board will meet Wednesday, February 7 at 4:30 p.m. and the Economic Development Commission will meet Tuesday, February 13 at 6 p.m

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