December 22, 2008

 

 

 

The Ellettsville, Indiana, Town Council met in Regular Session on Monday, December 22, 2008, at the Fire Department Training and Conference Room.  Dan Swafford called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. David Drake led the Pledge of Allegiance and Phillip Smith led in prayer. 

 

Roll Call:  Members present were Dan Swafford, President; Dianna Bastin, Vice-President; David Drake, Scott Oldham and Phillip Smith.  Sandra Hash, Clerk-Treasurer; Mike Spencer, Town Attorney and Rick Coppock, Town Engineer were also present. 

 

Supervisors Present:   Mike Cornman, Jim Ragle, Tony Bowlen, Mike Farmer and Frank Nierzwicki were present.

 

Approval of the Minutes

 

Dan Swafford entertained a motion to approve minutes for the Regular Meeting of December 8, 2008.  David Drake so moved.  Scott Oldham seconded.  Motion carried.

 

Action to Pay Accounts Payable Vouchers

 

Dan Swafford entertained a motion to approve Accounts Payable Vouchers.  Dianna Bastin made the motion.  Phillip Smith seconded.  Motion carried. 

 

Resolutions

 

Resolution 22-08 Transfer of Funds

 

Sandra Hash explained year end transfers are currently needed in certain funds and appropriations:

 

From:  1-2-341           Fleet Insurance                         $          75.00

To:       1-2-118           Administrative Assistant            $          75.00

 

From:   1-3-341           Fleet Insurance                         $     3,000.00

To:       1-3-104           Firemen Salaries                       $     3,000.00

 

From:   1-5-394           Training                                    $        300.00

To:       1-5-215           Office Supplies                         $        300.00

 

From:   2-1-341           Fleet Insurance                         $     3,000.00

To:       2-1-124           Workers Compensation            $     3,000.00

 

David Drake made the motion we adopt Resolution 22-08.  Scott Oldham seconded.  Motion carried.

 

Resolution 23-08 concerning rates, fees and charges associated with the activities of the Ellettsville Utilities

 

Mike Farmer, Ellettsville Utilities asked the Council to pass this resolution establishing charges and rates for services provided by the Utilities Department.  This resolution will be filed with the IURC (Indiana Utilities Regulatory Commission) supporting the reasoning for the increases.  David Drake clarified these rate increases will not affect the average customers; they are not water rates but mainly new construction and hook-ons.  Mike clarified this resolution will establish the rates and charges for service trucks, backhoes and equipment used for day to day service.  Also included are charges for NSF (non-sufficient fund) check fees, reconnect fees and water/sewer deposits for people who rent (to name a few listed).  David Drake asked if these rates are based on what it costs the Town to perform these services.  Mike said yes and outlined the procedure. Umbaugh is provided with supporting documents that spell out material costs (labor and equipment).  All this information is formulated, sent with this resolution to the IURC; who will then make their changes and it will be sent back to the Utilities Department.   At that time, the Utilities Department will propose an ordinance.  Dan asked if gas usage was figured into these rates.  Mike stated mileage is figured at fifty-eight cents per mile.  Dan asked why the sewer deposits were higher than the water.  Mike explained, for the water, the IURC will only allow an average monthly usage (on two months) and the Utilities Department can set their own sewer deposit rates and decided on a three month average usage.  These deposits are designed to protect, not only the Utilities but also the landowner.  Dan asked about the after hour reconnect fee and how they are called out.  Mike explained the office is open later than usual on “delinquent days” to provide everyone time to pay their bills and have the water turned back on.  If there is a call after hours, through the call service, the customers have to agree to pay the “after hour reconnect fee”.  The town has to pay an on-call employee for two hours.  Dan asked how many days, after the bill is due, is the water disconnected.  Mike said it varies but at least 26 days with two notices being sent.  Mike announced the “disconnect day” is not the same day every month; it is based on a certain amount of time after the disconnect notices are sent out.  The Utilities Department will disconnect on a Tuesday or Wednesday to best allow for people to pay their bills and not go through the weekend without water.  There is a calendar with all the shut off dates listed and all notices have the shut off date printed on them.  Dianna wanted to clarify that the water bills are not due the same day every month.  Mike stated the due dates are printed on the bills.  He further explained when there are arrears on the bill, that amount is “past due”.  Dan asked if someone receives a bill with an “arrears” due date; does the bill state “arrears subject to disconnect”.  Mike said the “disconnect notice” states that.  When the current bill has an “arrears” amount, the customer already received a “disconnect notice” with a disconnect date for that amount.  A customer can receive a current bill with a due date on it but if the bill has an “arrears” amount on it, their water could be shut off before the “current bill” is due.  Dan recommends the shut off date to be clearer on the water bill.  Mike said the bills will be changed in the future but not until the water rate is established and clarification of all the information is known because the software company charges for modifications to the bills; they would like to do this all at once.  The Utilities Department sends out between 1200 and 1800 disconnect notices a month. 

 

Dan Swafford asked for a motion to adopt Resolution 23-08 concerning rates.  Dianna Bastin made the motion.  David Drake seconded.  Roll call vote: Dan Swafford – yes; Dianna Bastin – yes; David Drake – yes; Scott Oldham – yes; Phillip Smith – yes.  Motion carried 5-0. 

 

The following discussion took place before the vote was taken

 

Scott Oldham asked if there was a program to help those who could not pay on time.  Mike said Ellettsville Utilities does not but they refer customers to the Trustees Office and he believes they have a program.  The Utilities Office used to receive many calls from people who could not pay but they do not receive those calls anymore.  Mike explained when he first started with the Utilities; they used to have a “waiting list” of when people would be in to pay.  There was a billing system, a sub-billing system and another group that was treated differently; it was important for all customers to be treated the same.  The Utilities Department does not want to be harsh and they do not like “shut off day” but it is the duty of the billing office to collect.  It is only fair, to the majority of the customers that are paying their bills, to make sure everyone pays.  Mike stated everyone would understand what the billing office goes through if they were to be in the Utilities office during shut off day.  Dianna was recently in the office during shut off day and it was chaotic with workers coming in/going out with shut off and turn-on tickets. 

 

New Business

 

Professional Service Agreement between the Town of Ellettsville and Bynum Fanyo and Associates Inc. for Engineering Services

 

Rick Coppock of Bynum Fanyo presented the same contract as last year except the monthly fee was increased based on last year’s activities ($130 per month).  Due to the economy, it should not be as busy in 2009. 

 

David Drake made a motion we approve the Professional Service Agreement between the Town and Bynum Fanyo and Associates in regards to Rick Coppock’s duties.  Dan Swafford seconded.  Roll call vote:  Dan Swafford – yes; Dianna Bastin – yes; David Drake – yes; Scott Oldham – yes; Phillip Smith – yes.  Motion carried 5-0. 

 

Dan Swafford stated Rick Coppock has done a wonderful job this year.  After reviewing the contract, the Town did save money.  Dan appreciates Bynum Fanyo working with the Town and helping the taxpayers. 

 

Supervisors Comments

 

Mike Farmer, Ellettsville Utilities believes there needs to be a public hearing before the town enacts a sewer ordinance on rates and charges.  Mike asked the Council to set a date for the public hearing and suggested January 12, 2009 at 6:30 p.m.; before the 7:30 Town Council meeting.  The date and time needs to be published in the newspaper.  Eastern Richland and Northern Richland Sewer Corporations also need to be notified.  Dan asked what the public hearing will entail.   Mike said anyone can come, voice their concerns, ask questions or get more information.  Dianna stated people will ask why this is being done and how much it will cost then debate if it is necessary.  Dan recommended advertising in both newspapers.  Dan suggested the public hearing be longer than the proposed hour.  Mike stated there was no public hearing set for the water rate increase because the IURC will hold a public meeting at a later date.  Mike Spencer stated a public hearing was incorporated into the regular Town Council meeting.  Dianna added that a few people had questions and they were referred on to the IURC. 

 

Scott Oldham made a motion to set a time limit on someone at the podium to three minutes. 

 

Dianna Bastin made the motion that we have a public hearing for the increase in sewer utility rates at 6 p.m., before the next meeting January 12, 2009, with a three minute time limit per question at the podium.  Mike Spencer suggested and stated the ordinance has been submitted for first reading and you are asking for a public hearing to pass the ordinance (which ever number ordinance that was).

 

 Dianna Bastin amended her motion; she made a motion that we have a hearing in order to pass Ordinance 08-12 concerning sewer utility rates and the hearing will start at 6 p.m. (an hour and a half before the Council meeting at 7:30) with a 3 minute time limit per person at the podium on January 12, 2009.  Phillip Smith seconded.  Roll call vote:  Dan Swafford – yes; Dianna Bastin – yes; David Drake – yes; Scott Oldham – yes; Phillip Smith – yes.  Motion carried 5-0. 

 

Dan Swafford asked if there was a way to send a notice in the water bills of the Public Hearing date and time.  Mike stated it would be an additional $600 to do that. 

 

Mike Farmer announced the Utilities Office will close on Christmas Eve at noon until the following Monday.  The Utilities Office will be closed New Year’s Day and the following day (January 1st and 2nd).  Due to the weather, Mike recommended everyone unhook garden hoses from the outside of their houses and make sure crawl spaces are guarded against the weather.  Please make sure all exposed areas are closed off.  The Utilities Department has 24 hour emergency shut off service. 

 

Tony Bowlen, Ellettsville Town Marshall informed the Council he received quotes from five different car dealers concerning the new cars he plans to order in January.  The cheapest quote was from Fletcher Dodge in Franklin; a Dodge Charger with a 6 year 60,000 mile warranty is $23,201.  Bloomington Ford’s quote came in at $24,727.25 with the optional 60,000 extended warranty.  Tony is planning on purchasing three new vehicles.  One car has been retired and this will move some more of the older vehicles out the door. 

 

Tony Bowlen announced Travis Perian graduated from the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy on December 12, 2008 and is slated to return to the department on December 26th.  Craig Davis will be returning to work February 2, 2009 and this will bring the department roster, not per shift roster, to nine officers.  Dan asked Tony when he was planning on purchasing the new vehicles.  Tony said sometime during the beginning of January.  Sandra stated the vehicles were approved in the budget.  Dan asked if these were “police packaged” vehicles.  Tony said “yes they are”, the lights will need to be purchased separate. 

 

Frank Nierzwicki, Director of Planning Services submitted (to Sandra today) a reimbursement bill to the State for $1,500 concerning the Community Planning Grant.  A reimbursement check should be received in less than thirty days.  The Planning Office holiday schedule will be as follows:  close December 22 at 5 p.m. and reopen Monday December 29th.  The office will be open December 29th and 30th and then be closed until January 5th at 8 a.m.

 

Frank Nierzwicki presented and explained the Obama Administrations Economic Stimulus Package.  This package has not been approved by Congress but Frank has been asked by the Bloomington Metropolitan Planning Organization to submit projects that will be ready to go in 120 days of February 1, 2009.  He spoke with the Bloomington MPO on the types of projects that would qualify and also spoke with Jim Ragle concerning resurfacing.  Frank called Senator Lugar’s office to get some input but they did not know what would happen.  There are a number of lists being produced and Ellettsville needs to have projects on those lists.  Frank outlined the items he submitted December 12, 2008:

  • Sycamore Drive Extension - Extending Sycamore Drive north to State Road 46.  This will give the School Corporation a “front door” entrance to all the schools including a stop light.  The estimated cost on this project is $900,000
  • Heritage Trail – The Town has already been awarded $169,000 for the downtown trail with a local match of $42,000.  The MPO suggests submitting two applications for this project.  The first application would be for the Federal and Local because they are receiving information the Feds may pick up the local match of $42,000.  The money already awarded for the trail was only for a portion and not for completion.  Costs adjustments from the 2003 original plan would be $900,000
  • 2009 Proposed Street Paving Plan – Material, labor and equipment to pave a number of different streets would be $50,000

 

Two programs have already been approved and awarded:  The Current Economic Recovery Act of 2007, also known as the seven hundred billion dollar financial bailout, passed by Congress and the other a CDBG (Community Development Block Grant), a block grant for disaster recovery funds for areas that were affected by the floods and tornados in Indiana.

 

Frank introduced Greg Jones, from the Southern Indiana Development Commission, who will speak in detail on the available grants.  The SIDC covers a five county area, of which Owen and Monroe Counties are not covered.  The State of Indiana has asked the SIDC to be a representative for Owen and Monroe Counties, after the July and August flood situation and set development strategies to help these counties recover over a long term.  The SIDC will not be helping individual home owners but help the communities to progress forward if floods were to happen again.  The SIDC will give information on what funding is available to the community. 

 

The Flood Recovery Funding has been received from the State.  The SIDC will hire a Flood Coordinator to set strategies with the help of the Town Council, Planning and Development agencies.   Mr. Jones stated getting the Economic Stimulus package will create jobs.  The SIDC will help find the projects that will help create the jobs in Ellettsville.  The SIDC will be in the area for the next three years working on this.  The first year will be to assess the needs, the second year will be putting the plans into place and the third year will monitor the projects.  The list of projects need to be submitted; getting the appropriate infrastructure for an industrial park or a business incubator based off of some type of medical or “niche” Ellettsville already has. 

 

The Neighborhood Stabilization Program is for purchasing properties that are vacant or foreclosed upon to help stabilize neighborhoods so property values do not deflate.  Mr. Jones presented a map with “stars” (south of State Road 46) which represents the areas eligible for this program.  The funding is 100% supplied by Federal Housing and Urban Development given by the State and requires no match for the funds.  Vacant or foreclosed homes will be identified; the Town will purchase it and then either demolish or rehabilitate it.  The rehabilitated homes could then be sold off, if it meets the criteria of the Indiana Housing Community and Development Authority.  This will give the Town a way to rebuild the community or take down different properties.  Dan asked if these are just flood damaged houses.  Mr. Jones said no, this was different from the Flood Recovery Funding which comes from FEMA; properties in the flood plain are bought out and either torn down for green space or they buy out the property and allow the property owners to move somewhere else.  The Neighborhood Stabilization Program is based on the housing market; destabilizing with all the sub-prime lending and different lending practices that have happened over the past years.  This is a unique opportunity and within the power of Town of Ellettsville to do this.  How do we administer this?  This would be a major undertaking.  There are about twenty homes needing to be identified, a plan for demolishing or rehabilitating those homes and then going through State funding requirements (competitive projects, bids for contractors, inspections, environmental review).  The SIDC will handle and help with all of this.  They are certified grant administrators through the State of Indiana.  They have worked in Indiana Housing programs for the last seventeen years but not with the Neighborhood Stabilization Program because it is a new program.   This is something that can be done and accomplished in the Town of Ellettsville, if this is something the town is willing to look at.  If this in an option, the State requires a “Letter of Intent” by January 9, 2009.  There might be some grant funding available for those who would like to do some work over the holidays.  Is this something the Town would be interested in doing or discussing?  Dan asked about the amount of money available.  Mr. Jones explained there is $151,936,496 available for the State; it will be divided into different communities and Ellettsville will have to fight for it.  There will be between fifty-eight and sixty million dollars for “non entitlement” communities.  Dan asked what will happen if the Town applies for this but is turned down, will there be a cost?  Mr. Jones said there are no risk and no cost to the Town.  The SIDC is already in the area for Flood Recovery and this program is a way to help the town with long term stability of the community and help with economic development.  Dan asked what is in it for the SIDC.  Mr. Jones explained there is an administration fee (10%), since their offices are in Loogootee, and the fee will make sure the town stays on track with State requirements.  The fee is built into the grant so no funds will be expended by the town except for paying the Clerk-Treasurer.  The Clerk-Treasurer will be responsible for keeping track of the collection and expenditures of the money.  The SIDC will notify the Clerk-Treasurer when to write and who to write the checks to.  The “Letter of Intent” is due January 9th at which time the Indiana Housing will meet with the Town and see if they have the capabilities of taking this on.  Having the SIDC on board will look favorably since they have been doing housing projects for seventeen years.  Sandra asked if Indiana Housing was State funded.  Mr. Jones said Indiana Housing is State funded but SIDC is “quasi- governmental” (having all government regulations but no government funding).  The Flood Recovery is the first funding being paid to them because the State realizes the SIDC is an entity that can handle this challenge. 

 

The SIDC is the “community development arm” to the Economic Development representatives.  Economic Development works on work force development issues and bringing businesses into the area.  The SIDC helps make sure there are infrastructures and nice quality of life. 

 

Mr. Jones reiterated there will be no cost incurred with this either by the SIDC or the State of Indiana.  There will be an application due on March 13, 2009 but no cost in having the SIDC put the application together.  The SIDC will look into bringing a realtor or someone who knows the area housing market on board to find the foreclosed homes and deal with the property owners.  The SIDC will set up contractors and administration items. 

 

Frank stated there will not be another Town Council meeting before January 9th.  Frank apologized for the short notice; the Neighborhood Stabilization Program was created December 16, 2008.  The reason for the fast turn around is to get the economy up and running.  Dan asked if the Town Council will have full control of the foreclosed homes and purchasing.  Mr. Jones stated the Town Council will be the sole owners of the property.  There will be restrictions on what can be done; grant guidelines will need to be met.  Frank said there are overlapping programs currently going on.  This program will protect the floodplains and keep people from building in those areas.  Phillip Smith asked if the “Letter of Intent” will come from the Town.  Mr. Jones said yes.  The packet he provided has an Attachment F: “Letter of Intent” Information Sheet enclosed.   Mr. Jones went through “Letter if Intent” information sheet and what needs to be listed.  There is a Non-Profit Entities section; if there is another agency in the area that can provide the same services as the SIDC, the Town can use them instead.  The SIDC is here if needed. 

 

 

Mike Spencer asked if the SIDC is a non for profit organization.  Mr. Jones said “no, we are set up as a ‘quasi-governmental entity’ under Indiana Code”.  Mike Spencer asked if they were a regular corporation.  Mr. Jones said they have tax exempt status but are considered regular government under Indiana Code IC 36-7-7-1 Regional Planning Commission.  Frank clarified there are a number of these commissions in the State of Indiana but there is not one that covers the Monroe County area.  The SIDC is the closest Regional Planning group to us. 

 

The “For-Profit Entities” would be the SIDC.  The “General Contractor” would be decided by using competitive bidding process. 

 

Dan Swafford asked Mike Spencer what his professional opinion was on this.  Mike Spencer said there are no contracts and nothing binding the town to anything.  Scott Oldham asked Frank if there are properties picked out.  Frank said no.  Mr. Jones stated there is an 18 month time frame from when the grant application is submitted and the grant is awarded to find properties to purchase and then rehabilitate or demolish.  There will be a four year time frame to complete those projects.  Dan questioned if the property is not picked out, how will we know how much to ask for?  Mr. Jones said “you guess”; a hypothesis will need to be created; twenty homes, $50,000 median home value.  Scott Oldham asked where the twenty home figure came from.  Mr. Jones says that is basing what can be completed in four years; finding, purchasing, going through legal hands.  These homes need to be vacant, foreclosed or in “the act of” foreclosure.

 

Phillip Smith made a motion with added suggestions by Mr. Jones, Frank Nierzwicki and Mike Spencer that we issue a “Letter of Intent” to Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority and to have SIDC assist the Town and give Mr. Swafford the authority to sign the “Letter of Intent” once it is completed if he so chooses.  David Drake seconded.  Roll call vote:  Dan Swafford – yes; Dianna Bastin – yes; David Drake – yes; Scott Oldham – yes; Phillip Smith – yes.  Motion carried 5-0.

 

The following discussion took place before the vote

 

Scott Oldham asked why we’re not doing this in house.  Frank said he just found out about this because it was formed December 16, 2008.  The State made the decision to use Regional Planning groups since that would be the fastest way to get things done.  The Town could do this but the Planning Department already has so much “on their platter”.  The background and expertise the SIDC has on housing would be something the town could “tap in on”.  Sandra said there are state certified grant administrators.  Scott Oldham clarified “anybody that is a ‘not for profit’ can fill out this ‘Letter if Intent’”.  Mr. Jones said yes as long as they have an eligible area (which Ellettsville has) and has an eligible entity applying on their behalf.  If you are a “not for profit” you can not apply for the Town of Ellettsville.  The Town of Ellettsville would have to apply on their own behalf and seek administration on their own.  SIDC wants to make sure Ellettsville is covered.  Frank said the town has not done much with housing.  The issue with this is “timing” and responding.  Mr. Jones stated that if in a couple of months the town would be able to handle this in house, SIDC would hand it over. 

 

Mike Cornman asked what do the stars represent on the map?  Mr. Jones said Census Block Groups that are eligible for the funding; the southern southwest side of Ellettsville.  The yellow marks delineate the town border.  FEMA has a program too.  There was more discussion regarding the map.  Frank stated if there are properties we would like to annex in the future, the houses are protected by a program like this. 

 

Mike Spencer stated there is another option: authorize the “Letter if Intent” and eliminate the SIDC.  David Drake asked why we would not use them considering they are free for us and they have the experience and contacts.  The town does not have to bind ourselves to using them for the entire project if we decided not too.  We can authorize them to handle the “Letter of Intent” and if we receive the grant; we will cross the next bridge when we come to it.  Mr. Jones reiterated they have received special funding from the Economic Development Administration to help with the Flood Recovery.  Part of this is to make people aware, keep the town eligible and that is what he is doing.   The State asked SIDC to speak with the Town of Ellettsville. 

 

Dianna Bastin asked that if after we submit the “Letter of Intent” and decide not to rehab houses; do we have to?  Mr. Jones said the town will have a meeting with Indiana Housing to discuss the town’s capabilities for this program and what the town’s intentions are.  Frank stated the “Letter of Intent” will give the State an idea of how many organizations are interested and the application process will narrow it down.  Mr. Jones was given a list, from the State, of block groups which he found to be somewhat incomplete and obtuse.  Mr. Jones is not saying if all of Ellettsville is eligible or not; the southern southwest is.  The State was given this information from HUD and they are now trying to deal with it. 

 

Rick Coppock asked if the areas with the “stars” are low to moderate income areas.  Mr. Jones said he did not know what the criteria was for selecting the areas.  Rick stated if income is the case, based on the 2000 Census, can an income survey be conducted on the north side of State Road 46.  Mr. Jones explained the community focus requirements were done based on a HUD CDBG Program.  Mr. Jones further explained the different requirements to figure CDBG dollars for HUD, OCRA and Indiana Housing.

 

Dan Swafford asked for references.  Mr. Jones stated any communities in their five county areas can be contacted. 

 

Scott Oldham asked Frank Nierzwicki, by the next Town Council meeting, a list of all grants he is currently working on, their status and any end dates.  Frank stated there is a quarterly report on the I-69 Grant due January 18, 2009. 

 

Council Comment

 

Dan Swafford wished everyone a Merry Christmas and a safe and happy holiday.  He thanked Jim Ragle for taking care of the icy roads.

 

Phillip Smith stated very few people took care of their sidewalks during the last ice storm.  He asked people to keep their sidewalks sanded or salted.

 

Adjournment

 

Dianna Bastin made a motion we adjourn.  David Drake seconded.  Motion carried.  Dan Swafford adjourned the meeting at 8:54 p.m.