Huntingburg Council meeting: Mayor’s Youth Council set to create flower garden

The Huntingburg Common Council heard an update on a special project the Huntingburg Mayor’s Youth Council is working on.

Youth council representative Maleah Dearing told the council the group is moving forward with creating eight raised bed garden plots on a 50-by-50 foot area adjacent to Hunter’s Crossing near the train overpass.

The group would like to begin work in early March and is asking the city to level the ground before then.

The group receives $3,000 annually from the city to support their project but will still need to fundraise for the flowerbeds. According to Dearing, several ideas are being discussed to fundraise, including a bake sale and letter campaign for building supplies.

The group will be putting out collection boxes at City Hall and in area churches to collect gardening supplies for the project.

Councilwoman Pam Bolte asked how the gardens would be utilized. Dearing stated the group is discussing options for allowing residents to sponsor slots or to hold a special day in which anyone can attend and plant flowers.

Mayor Neil Elkins stated the city is working with the council to set up a budget for the project and create a needs list that will be broadcast through the city’s social media channels.

During the regular meeting, the council also took the following actions:

-Heard the annual utility write-off would be $10,930.58 for 2023, according to Clerk-Treasurer Tom Dippel. He told the council this amount represents 0.05 percent of the city’s gross utility sales. Though the city writes off the debt, it still attempts to collect the funds. Difficulties arise in the process for various reasons, such as no forwarding address to a renter or someone passing away (Elkins noted three of the five individuals who owed wastewater dues had died). If possible, the city can attempt to collect past dues through an individual’s state tax refund through the Indiana Department of Revenue. They will also file in small claims if the cost doesn’t exceed the amount being collected. The council approved the write-off.

-Heard the fire chief is going to ask for revisions to the employee ordinance for his department. Currently, the ordinance allows for the chief to have two assistant fire chiefs who are appointed by the mayor. Historically, only one assistant has been appointed. The fire chief would like to change the ordinance to reflect that. Additionally, he would like to codify the fire chief’s ability to appoint subordinate officers within the department. City Attorney Phil Schneider told the council the fire chief will take the request to the Board of Public Works and Safety so the council may see some movement on the changes.