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Georgetown discusses sewers, streets

July 23, 2008
At the regular meeting of the Georgetown Town Council on Tuesday, July 15, the council was presented with the results of an independent study conducted by H.J. Umbaugh and Associates concerning future sewer rates of the town.

Doug Baldessari, a representative of H.J. Umbaugh, informed the public that H.J. Umbaugh had been approached by the town to investigate the town water rates.

The study found that by January of next year, if Georgetown remains on New Albany's sewer system, residents could see a rise of up to 54 percent in their sewer bills. Worst-case scenario aside, a guaranteed increase of 22 percent will come in January, again if Georgetown remains on the system, when New Albany ups the rates for out-of-town users of its sewer systems.

After hearing the results of the study, Billy Stewart, council president, commented: "Our only real relief is to build our own plant."

Following Baldessari's presentation, attorney D.A. Andrews advised the town to wait to hear from New Albany before issuing an ordinance concerning any sort of sewer rates or annexation, but not to wait too long, no more than a month, as notices must go out to all customers outside of Georgetown's incorporated limits before an ordinance of this nature can be passed.

Andrews said they were "pushing as hard as they could legally" to reduce the rates of the town, but said the only ultimate source of relief may come in the form of annexation.

He also mentioned that progress on the construction of a new sewage treatment plant, if it's going to be built, needs to be shown soon.

"Every day that goes by (without action) means higher sewer fees later," Andrews said.

The construction will also send a message to New Albany and may help with the negotiation of rates.

During the departmental reports of the meeting, Police Chief Larry Potts introduced the town's newest reserve officer, James (Rocky) Cambron of Greenville, who has lived in Floyd County for 15 years.

Cambron has a bachelor's degree from the University of Louisville and an associate's degree from Ivy Tech. He served on U of L Security from 1982-84, after which he worked for the Jefferson County Police Department. He graduated from the Marshal's Academy in 2006 and served as a Greenville Town Marshal from 2006-07. Cambron currently works as a fraud investigator for US Bank.

Potts also informed the council that his officers are requesting time-and-a-half for participation in Operation Pullover, a DUI roadblock set up by the officers at different locations periodically throughout the year. He also requested the approval from the council to add $5 of every hour worked at Operation Pullover to the gas fund for the department. The council unanimously approved Chief Potts' requests.

In other business, Jim Reynolds, director of the Public Works Department, requested a third laborer for the PWD. The department is currently working three men down, and Reynolds and his men have been working a combined 70 or so hours of overtime a month.

Reynolds hinted that there would be room in the budget for another worker and that it would be cheaper than paying him and his current workers so much overtime.

"I've attempted to persuade the board by saving them money," Reynolds continued. "Now, I'll try to persuade them with things we aren't getting done."

Reynolds then began listing a host of projects the PWD had not been able to get to due to being understaffed. These included cleaning up the shop area of town, installing the new water meters for the town that have already been paid for, repairing the catch basin on Canal Lane and replacing eight septic tanks.

"I desperately need help," Reynolds said. "If I had one more laborer, we could get at least half of this stuff done."

The council approved the hiring of another laborer 4-1, with Mike Mills opposing.

Later, Reynolds presented the assessment report of the town hall issued by the Renaissance Design Building Inc.

"The current building structure is not in eminent danger of collapse," Reynolds read.

That being said, the report also cautioned that "no additional storage be added to the first room on the second floor," meaning the added weight could cause problems in the future.

RDB Inc. recommended that the bricks on the front of the building be replaced and that the mortar joints be improved, noting action should be taken as soon as possible before winter when more cracking could occur. The windows facing S.R. 64 also need to be replaced as does the leaky roof.

The total cost of the things that must be done (the bricks, the roof and the windows) is estimated at around $26,000.

Stewart saw the report as an ultimatum, saying that "we either have to remodel this building or replace it."

Either way would require a temporary location for the town hall.

The town council decided to wait to decide on whether to fix the building or tear it down until after an engineer's report about the utilization of the building is released. The council then approved, 5-0, a lease with Roger Harbison, the owner of the Copperfield Development and Copperfield Commons, for $750 a month to move temporarily into the space in the strip mall next to Movie Gallery.

In new business, the council was faced with approving an ordinance that would adopt the streets of the Copperfield neighborhood into the town.

"When a developer builds a subdivision, the streets are private property until they are formally turned over to the town," Stewart explained. "The previous council did not adopt the streets of Copperfield into the town."

The proposed ordinance originally died due to lack of a motion after the council expressed a concern over possible future damages to the road because of ongoing construction and a possible faulty drainage system. The council also wanted to be sure it could legally adopt the streets even if all the homes weren't completed.

Before moving on, though, further discussion occurred when Reynolds informed the council that past precedent dictated that when 75 percent of the homes built in a development are finished, the town usually takes over the streets, and that the drainage system, separate from the roads, that some members of council raised concerns about, has actually been in Georgetown's possession since 2002.

The council was also made aware that although the previous council never adopted the streets, the state of Indiana recognizes that it did and includes the streets in the town's assets. Stewart proposed to pass the ordinance so the town could "clean up the mess the previous council made."

Council member Aaron Striegel expressed his concern by asking Town Attorney Jim Montgomery if collecting revenue on the streets the town didn't own was illegal. Montgomery answered jokingly that if it was illegal, then the town had been doing it illegally for six years now. But on a more serious note, Montgomery agreed with Stewart and advised that the matter be cleaned up with the passing of the ordinance.

The ordinance went to a vote that failed 3-2, with Mills and Karla Perkins opposing. A two-thirds majority was required.

In other news, the town agreed to sign a Certificate of Loan completion for the State Revolving Fund. The original loan was for $1.6 million, but the town only used $1.589. The town had previously decided to keep the remaining money to repair water lines and so the loan was kept open. The motion to sign the certificate was made by Mills and seconded by Everett Pullen. It passed 5-0.

The next regular meeting will be Tuesday, Aug. 19, at 6:30 p.m.

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