By BRADEN LAMMERS
The Sellersburg Town Council took a step toward beginning its water improvement project, but took no action on setting water rates for the town’s residents.
A contract with Curry and Associates was unanimously approved to complete the engineering work for the water improvement projects slated to be part of a series of projects to rehabilitate the town’s water system through a $5 million bond being sought.
The bond will pay for the drilling of two new supply wells, construction of a new booster station, a new 500,000-gallon water storage tank and to refurbish two of the town’s existing water tanks.
The amount of the contract, which will be paid out of the already approved Bond Anticipation Note, totaled $275,000.
“Once this is approved the first thing that’s going to be accomplished, I believe, will be addressing the [existing] water tanks.” said Town Council President Paul Rhodes.
He said he didn’t anticipate the rehabilitation and painting of the water tanks to begin until March.
As the town moved forward with the first step in rehabilitating its water system, no official action has been taken on increasing the town’s water rates to pay for the $5 million bond.
“We want to be sure we’ve got our questions answered, and that once we make a decision, it’s the right decision for the town,” Rhodes said.
The council said some questions were unanswered following a presentation by Indianapolis-based Umbaugh and Associates. The presentation offered two plans to the town to cover the bond being sought. The first option would raise monthly rates for town residents to $26.24, compared to $13.25 based on 5,000 gallons of water usage and the second alternative, the rate would increase by 104 percent, to $27 per 5,000 gallons of water usage.
Rhodes said the major difference in the two options is a $58,400 payment in lieu of taxes in the second alternative, as well as minor differences in the public fire protection surcharge.
Town Councilman Michael Lockhart said the questions included whether or not the increase in rates included fire protection costs and how the rates compared to other municipalities. He said Monday that fire protection costs were not included in the rate increases returned by Umbaugh.
According to Umbaugh’s draft rate study, the hydrant charge — per equivalent meter size — in alternative one totals $5.22 per month, or in alternative two $5.37 per month.
The council also unanimously approved ordinance 2012-18 to set new voting districts for the town based on 2010 census figures.
Redistricting is required to be completed within two years of each decennial census and needed to be approved before the end of the year.
Town Attorney Jake Elder said redistricting required each district to be less than a 10 percent difference in each district’s population total. Sellersburg returned four districts, within 5 percent of the population totals, and one at-large district which encompasses the entire town.
Rhodes said there were minor changes in Districts 1, 2 and 3.
One change that was not included in the redistricting map was the inclusion of Covered Bridge, as the court case is still pending.
“Once this annexation is complete, here in 2013, depending on how the supreme court rules, we’ll have to go back and do this all over again,” Elder said of redistricting.
Sellersburg received a donation of $10,000 from the organizers of the town’s annual festival.
Sellersburg Celebrates! Volunteer Terry Purlee and Stephanie Pruitt, who served as president of Sellersburg Celebrates! festival in its 23rd incarnation this year, presented a check to the town council at its meeting Monday.
“The intended use of the money is to refurbish a lot we bought next to Wilkerson Park to increase our greenspace downtown,” Rhodes said.
• The Sellersburg Town Council will next meet Dec. 10. It will be the council’s only December meeting.