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Georgetown Council agrees to refinance O'Brien property

Council also talks of seeking increase in gaming funds; deals with sewage odor problem

August 27, 2008
In their regular meeting at the new town hall annex on Aug. 19, the Georgetown Town Council agreed to refinance the O'Brien property and shift it from a short-term mortgage to a long-term mortgage.

President Billy Stewart suggested the refinancing after explaining that the town is currently paying $12,380 a month on the mortgage. Stewart suggested that the town move to a long-term mortgage with a lower monthly rate.

This will mean that not only will the town conserve money for future projects, such as a sewer plant, but the move will also provide less stress on the town taxpayers if the board is not successful in all its legal ventures and Georgetown ends up getting hit with a large increase in sewer rates, Stewart said. The rate increase could actually come two-fold, with an increase in sewer rates by the county this fall and an increase in rates by New Albany for out-of-town customers next February.

Kim Sweet, deputy clerk, informed the council it still had around $250,000 to pay off on the property. The council voted 5-0 in favor of refinancing.

In other financial news, Stewart brought up the issue of the Floyd County gaming money. In the past, Georgetown had received 1 percent of Harrison County's riverboat money. However, a decision by the Harrison County Council in early 2004 removed the 1 percent given to Georgetown and added it to the 1 percent already given to Floyd County. The proposed plan of giving Floyd County 2 percent of the riverboat money was to allow the county to provide a more equal distribution of funds among all the towns in Floyd.

However, in the past five years, Georgetown has only received $32,000 of this money when it would have received close to $1 million had it still been getting the 1 percent. The council is now seeking to petition Floyd County to allow Georgetown more money. Stewart said that if the council fails in this venture, the town will then go to Harrison County and ask for the 1 percent back.

The night was not all about bringing in and conserving money, however, with the town providing funds for the elimination of the sewer odor in Brookstone Subdivision and a refund check for HYR on its overpaid water bill.

Ron and Lisa Schweinheart approached the council about the sewage odor coming from lift station No. 2 behind their home in Brookstone. The couple has lived there with their children for five years and have always had trouble with the smell.

"The odor has always been an issue," Ron Schweinheart said. "It's quite repulsive."

Providing an example of how the smell has impacted his family's social life, Schweinheart told the story of his son's recent graduation party where tents and tables were set up in the back yard. When it came time for the party, however, the 50 to 60 guests were forced to remain inside because the odor was so bad.

The Schweinhearts said they have tried for years to get people to fix the problem, but no real progress has been made.

The whole situation came to a head about a month ago when the Schweinhearts noticed raw sewage bubbling up from the lift station and running through their yard.

Ron Schweinheart pleaded with the council to do something about the station.

Jim Reynolds, head of the town's Public Works Department, addressed Schweinheart, saying that the overflow was caused by the pump shutting off due to an article of clothing being flushed down a toilet in the neighborhood and causing a blockage in the sewer.

Addressing concerns about the spots where the sewage bubbled up, Reynolds said that lime was spread on and worked into the soil on two separate occasions to clean it up.

Reynolds' recommendation to the council for fixing the smell was to hire Source Technology to come out and pour a mixture of a chemical called BTX and hydrogen peroxide that will kill the odor, not only at lift station No. 2 but at lift station No. 3, where there have been complaints of odor. It would effectively flush the entire sewer system in the neighborhood of any raw sewage smell.

The initial start-up cost for the use of Source Technology services will be $4,235.

"You can't put a price on good neighborhood relations," Councilman Aaron Striegel said, adding that he would rather spend the money now than dealing with problems and complaints in the future.

The motion to follow Reynolds' recommendation of hiring Source Technology with money from the Sewer Fund passed, 5-0.

Rick Emerson, president of the HYR board, then asked about the water bill at the Optimist Club Park that the league pays.

Three years ago the board installed a second meter at the concession stand to track the water usage of the bathrooms and the hoses. As a result, HYR began getting billed twice for water — once at the meter by the road and again at the concession stand. HYR ended up paying for more water than it was actually using. This also led to a higher sewer bill.

This error was not caught by the council until earlier this year and has since been corrected. However, Emerson requested the extra money paid for water HYR didn't use over the course of the three years be issued to HYR in the form of a credit or refund.

Reynolds said he had figured up how much HYR had overpaid in the last three years and it came to $1,371.

He told the council that since the town's water is unregulated, paying a credit is not mandatory but is ultimately a decision of the council.

Councilwoman Karla Perkins asked Reynolds if he thought that the overcharging was the town's fault.

"Yes," Reynolds answered.

The council then voted 5-0 to issue HYR a check for $1,371.21.

In another item, since it didn't pass at the previous council meeting, the council did a second reading of an ordinance concerning the adoption of the streets of Copperfield Subdivision into the town. The council accepted the ordinance, 5-0.

After this, Reynolds informed the council that the ordinance they just approved was merely a formality since the town automatically gained ownership of the streets of Copperfield when 80 percent of the homes were built and this became official when the streets were included in the town road inventory submitted to the state.

In new business, the council signed an agreement proposed by Hilltop Estates, the developers who will begin building homes on the old Knob Hill Golf Course property, requiring them to not remonstrate against annexation. This means that in the future if the town wanted to bring this property into itself through annexation, the developers could not protest the action. The council hinted that the fact the developers actually proposed this agreement could mean that they actually want to be annexed at some point.

The agreement passed, 4-1, with Councilman Mike Mills opposed.

A new committee was formed at the meeting. The Town Hall Building Committee will be chaired by Everett Pullen and will have four members of the community serving on it. The committee will meet with the planners when they are done surveying the town hall and decide whether or not the building should be remodeled and torn down and rebuilt. The council approved the committee, 5-0.

In a final piece of news, the council agreed to move the time of the town council meeting from the third Tuesday of each month to the fourth Tuesday of each month.

Reynolds made the recommendation that the town council meeting be moved because it conflicted with the Floyd County Commissioners' meeting that meets at the same time. He said at least one council member should attend the county meetings.

After some deliberation, the council proposed that the meetings be moved to the fourth Tuesday of every month at 6:30 p.m. The motion passed 5-0. This means the next regular meeting will be held Sept. 23.

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