By BRADEN LAMMERS
An increase to the town of Sellersburg’s water rates stalled again at the town council meeting Monday night.
The town has been seeking a bond to pay for $5 million worth of improvements to the town’s water system. Among the improvements slated to take place are 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.
In order to pay for the improvements the council said the town needed to increase its water rates.
The two options being considered 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.
But an ordinance that would set those rates was tabled once again at the council meeting Monday.
“We have anticipated being able to approve the ordinance on water rates, we received our copy late in the week,” said Town Council President Paul Rhodes. “We’re not satisfied with some of the wording in it, talking to our attorney, nor are we satisfied with some of the rate issues that are addressed in it.”
Questions for the council that remained unanswered related to a public fire protection surcharge.
“We’re just not satisfied that’s what we want — that they are where we want it,” Rhodes said of the charges.
According to Indianapolis-based Umbaugh and Associates 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.
Town Attorney Jake Elder said some of the language between the draft ordinances was inconsistent and the council did not have an opportunity to go through and review what was in the ordinance, as a copy was returned to the town on Saturday, from Indianapolis-based law firm Ice Miller.
“We’ve got a whole month now to deal with it,” Rhodes said. “Each one of us will take a look at it and ask the questions that need to be asked.”
Despite not approving the water rate ordinance, Rhodes said the rehabilitation of the town’s water towers will move forward.
“Since we’ve got the BAN (Bond Anticipation Note) opened up it’s not slowing us down,” he said.
An engineering contract with Curry and Associates was unanimously approved at the council’s previous meeting and Sellersburg Municipal Works Director Ken Alexander said he hopes to have a contract in place to complete the water tank rehabilitation by February.
It is expected that the council will vote on the water rate ordinance at its next meeting on Jan. 14.
Sellersburg was presented with a proposal that would guarantee a greater level of ambulance service to the town if it signed a contract with Rural Metro Corp. ambulance service.
Rural Metro Corp. purchased Sellersburg Volunteer Fire Department’s ambulance service, which operated as Clark County Emergency Medical Services, last year. The deal was approved by the Clark County Commissioners and carried the same provisions agreed to by Sellersburg VFD on the contract that extended through 2017.
But Dan Gillespie, Indiana division general manager with Rural Metro Corp., was on-hand at the Sellersburg town council meeting to ask the town to enter into an agreement of its own.
“Basically, what we’re asking the towns and the townships to do is to enter into agreements individually,” he said. “It allows us to put a little bit of control back in your hands. Right now, there’s no dedicated ambulance to Sellersburg.”
According to the deal with Clark County, seven ambulances are required to be in the county at all times. If Sellersburg agreed to the deal, the only difference would be a dedicated ambulance to the town, and the contract with the town would extend beyond county contract. The county contract guarantees the same response time offered in the Sellersburg deal.
“The only difference is if they have seven emergencies, they will bring another ambulance into our community,” said Councilman Brian Meyer.
The council tabled a decision on entering into the contract.
The town council renewed the contract with Elder to act as town attorney.
There was no change in pay for the annual contract, which totals $52,000, and it was unanimously approved.