By BRADEN LAMMERS
SELLERSBURG — A deal to purchase a water company, once struck down by the town of Sellersburg, is being revisited.
Sellersburg Town Council Attorney Jake Elder notified the town council Monday night that the attorney for Riverside Water Co. had reached out to the town to see if it was willing to purchase the private water company.
Previous attempts to negotiate a deal with the Jeffersonville-based water wholesaler did not pan out, said Sellersburg Municipal Works Director Ken Alexander. The previous deal had included a price tag of about $1.3 million, including debt owed to the town, and that the owner would retain certain property on-site.
Town Council President Paul Rhodes initially stated that the town council had decided to move on from the deal and not negotiate the purchase of the company. The board had agreed to move forward, in part, because they did not want to continue negotiations because it may delay the town from determining new water rates.
“We need to move on with our rate ordinance,” Rhodes said. “If we would pursue this we would need to resolve that before we would adopt the rate ordinance.”
Councilman Brian Meyer asked if they shouldn’t reconsider making a deal.
Sellersburg provides the water to the wholesale company, and by buying the water company the town would add about 1,300 customers, increase revenues and increase bonding capacity.
“Right now, it’s just a wholesale customer, so it would actually turn into 1,300 individual customers,” Alexander said. He explained that for a wholesale customer there is not a minimum rate, but there is a minimum rate for individuals, designed to help pay off outstanding bonds.
“In the long run it could potentially help out the people in Sellersburg because it could reduce the increased water rate,” Elder said.
The town has been reviewing plans that would increase its water rates. A $5 million bond is being sought to complete improvements to the town’s water-treatment plant; drilling for two new supply wells; construction of a new booster station; a new 500,000-gallon water storage tank; and to refurbish two of its existing water tanks.
According to an Umbaugh and Associates water rate study, to pay the bond the rates for town residents, based on 5,000 gallons of water usage, would increase from $13.25 to $27. An ordinance adopting a new rate for the town has yet to be approved.
“I think we could [make an offer] if we really shorten up that time frame. It benefits everybody in town to do it,” said Councilman Terry Langford said.
Meyer added he would not have agreed to reconsider if the company had not reached out to the town.
The council agreed to meet in an executive session Monday, April 1, to discuss drafting a new offer to Riverside Water Co.
ANNEXATION ORDINANCE REVIEW
A clearer picture of what services will be provided to Covered Bridge, and when, was presented at the council meeting.
Sellersburg learned that it won its case against Covered Bridge when the Indiana Supreme Court issued a notice March 12 that it would not hear an appeal. Residents in the golf community and adjacent to the subdivision had been fighting the town’s attempts to annex their neighborhoods for five years. Along with the Willows of Covered Bridge, Sterling Oaks and property along Allentown Road, the town was seeking to add a total of 1,852 acres.
Elder said he would review the annexation ordinance and fiscal plan adopted in August.
“We will need to provide non-capital services within one year from the adoption date ... and three years to provide the capital services,” he said.
Elder added that in April the council will also need to discuss a redistricting plan to incorporate the newly annexed area into the town.
The annexed area touches districts one and two, whose representatives are Rhodes and Councilman James LaMaster, respectively.
Rhodes added that at one point, when the effort began, the council talked about the district falling to the at-large council representative, who is Meyer.
Elder and the council agreed, if it is not defined in the annexation ordinance, to determine representation until a redistricting plan is defined.
“In the interim ... we need to have somebody responsible to represent those folks,” Rhodes said.
LIFT STATION WORK
A bid for rehabilitation work on a lift station along Perry Crossing Road was unanimously accepted by the town council Monday night.
Alexander explained the work was rolled into this year because of extra expenses in dealing with the same issue at a lift station near Silver Creek High School.
The bids were opened at a public meeting Friday, with Clark Nickles Inc. coming in as the low bidder at $57,707 and EZ Construction as the next bidder at $93,370.
Councilman Terry Langford questioned why there was such a large difference in the bidding amounts and Alexander said he was unsure.
He said it may be as simple as how busy each company is and added that other bids that have come in recently have also shown large differences in bid price.
The contract with Clark Nickles was accepted and the money for the project will come from the town’s sewer tap-in fee fund.
ADDING GREEN SPACE
A contract was approved to begin turning what was formerly the Miller Meat Market in Sellersburg into a green space.
Sellersburg previously purchased land adjacent to Wilkerson Park with the intention of expanding the park.
To remove concrete still on site, fill and smooth out the lot, a contract totaling $14,500 with Dan Cristiani Excavating Co. Inc. was unanimously approved.
Several instances of vandalism to stop signs has been reported, according to town officials.
About four or five stop signs have been painted with black paint and will need to be replaced in the Creston addition, near U.S. 31. The cost of the signs is estimated at $85, with labor to replace the signs at about $100.