By BRADEN LAMMERS
More in the way of water works was at issue during the Sellersburg Town Council meeting this week, but final decisions remain.
The Sellersburg Town Council addressed the potential purchase of Riverside Water Co. in Jeffersonville, an offer which has previously been presented to the council.
Sellersburg Town Council Attorney Jake Elder notified the town council in March that Riverside Water, a Jeffersonville-based water wholesaler, had reached out to the town to see if it was willing to buy the private water company. A previous attempt to negotiate a deal between the company and Sellersburg was not successful.
But in reviewing the offer to take control of the water company, Sellersburg is conducting two studies.
According to the town council, an engineering study of the system and a fiscal review of the water company is underway. The determination the council is wanting is how purchasing the company will affect Sellersburg water customers.
The town already provides the water to Riverside, and by buying the water company the town would add about 1,300 customers, increase revenues and increase bonding capacity. In turn it is expected that water rate increases anticipated for a $5 million bond being sought for water system improvements would be lowered.
The town has been seeking the bond 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.
“Initially, it looks like it’s going to be a plus, but we want that study to confirm that,” said Sellersburg Town Council President Paul Rhodes of the fiscal impact.
Umbaugh and Associates, which is conducting the water rate study for Sellersburg, has also been asked to review the fiscal impact of purchasing Riverside Water. According to the 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 without the addition of Riverside Water Company. An ordinance adopting a new rate for the town has yet to be approved.
To prepare for the potential purchase of the water wholesaler, the town council unanimously approved allowing Elder to draft a purchase agreement. The letter is designed to show Indiana Rural Membership Water Corp. negotiations are ongoing, but does not obligate the town to purchase the water company.
“If the town does move forward with the purchase of the water company we would ensure that the town would recover the debt which is owed for past water service,” Elder added.
It was recently discovered that Riverside Water Company has an outstanding debt owed to Sellersburg of more than $300,000.
It is anticipated that the reports will be returned before the council’s next meeting. A decision on purchasing the water company is likely to be made at that meeting. There is no meeting on the fourth Monday of May, as it is the Memorial Day holiday. The council’s next meeting is scheduled for Monday, June 10.
WATER TANK WORK
Work on the town’s two water tanks has begun, and is expected to be in full swing late this week.
Caldwelll Tanks is refurbishing both of Sellersburg’s water towers at a cost of $578,500. The cost to paint the downtown water tower is $319,600 and the cost to paint a water tower off of Ind. 60 is $258,900, which includes the town’s name to be painted on the tanks in black lettering. The towers are being painted white.
But Town Councilman Brian Meyer again expressed a desire to see something besides plain block lettering painted on the tanks.
“I want to do something with our water tanks that is pleasing to the eye, and black lettering is not what I’m wanting,” he said.
One option presented Monday was to paint a Sellersburg logo in blue and orange on the water tower with the phrase “town of opportunity” below the town’s name.
The change in lettering would also trigger a change in pricing.
“To put this logo on the big tower over off of [Ind.] 60, on one side would be $7,600,” Rhodes said.
He added that to put the logo on the downtown tower it would cost $5,800 per side. The current cost to paint block lettering on the towers, per side, is about $4,800.
“The response I’m getting with this, 98 percent of the feedback is orange and blue,” Meyer said. The orange-and-blue color scheme would match the school colors for Silver Creek High School, the only high school located in Sellersburg.
Town Councilman Terry Langford said that he would like to see Sellersburg’s name with an American flag on the water towers.
What was agreed to is that a logo would only be needed on one side of the tower.
“My opinion ... if we’re going to go with something a little more expensive, we can reduce the cost by putting it on one side,” Rhodes said. “And I think putting it on one side is enough.”
Ken Alexander suggested let the company develop a template for the logo to show the council how it would look on the tower before a decision is determined.
JEFFERSONVILLE IMPROVING LAND
The city of Jeffersonville has been granted approval to make improvements to property in Sellersburg.
Jeffersonville has requested access to the waterworks well field off River Road where it is installing a lift station.
“Basically, we have some property at the very end of that [area] where they’re wanting to put a lift station,” Alexander said. “They’ll do some improvements to the whole site that will benefit us.”
The site improvements include grading and paving work at a minimum anticipated value of $10,000 to $15,000.
The town council gave its official approval to assume police protection for the recently annexed subdivision of Covered Bridge and the Willows.
Sellersburg has already begun providing police protection to the area and Meyer, who is also a captain with Clark County Sheriff’s Department, said Clark County is still responding to calls.