The Town Council was scheduled to consider a new ordinance putting in place the town-wide trash service, but Councilman Ed Johnson started a vote to rescind last month's choice of CGS Services from Morristown as the trash company serving the town.
Johnson said that there had been new questions brought to his attention Tuesday that led him to rescind the approval. Until those questions are answered, he felt the town should hold off on the trash service.
Johnson ended up getting joined in his vote by all of the council members except President Clyde Compton.
That came after Councilwoman Nellie Meek said she did not believe that the town could include the trash billing on its water and sewer bills. She based her interpretation on a reading of the state law provided by the State Board of Accounts.
Meek and Compton had a testy exchange over her contact with the State Board of Accounts. Compton said that she took it upon herself, without the rest of the council's consent, to contact the state.
At the end of the meeting, Meek told Compton that she would not be verbally bullied and that she would contact whoever she deemed necessary to fulfill her duties to her constituents.
In other business before the Town Council:
Were updated on the painting of the water tower, which should start in a few days. The council agreed to keep the tower white, with the same lettering saying "Hope." The work is expected to take about six weeks.
Heard an update on the Eastern Bartholomew Water Corp. rate hike proposal. Town Manager J.T. Doane said that the water utility, which provides the town of Hope with its water supply, had reached a settlement agreement with the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor on the proposed rate hike. Under the agreement, there would be a 27.8 percent rate hike that goes into effect as soon as December, with a second 9.6 rate hike in 2019. That would raise the wholesale water rates to $2.13 per 1,000 gallons for the first phase and $2.34 for the second phase.
Utilities Manager David Clouse said the town uses about 5.4 million gallons of water a month. The average home uses about 5,000 gallons.
Chuck Baker and Ken Patton presented a plan to plant dogwood trees in front of the former Accents building and the Hope Wellness Pharmacy.
Doane updated the council on the city's trash ordinance. He said that 58 homes had been tagged so far and only three have remained out of compliance. One of those will be going to court next month.
Council approved an ordinance detailing town promotions and how money could be spent. Clerk-Treasurer Diane Burton said that the monthly employee birthday parties are paid for by the staff themselves. The town has $1,000 set aside for celebration of significant employee anniversaries, as well as an annual employee appreciation lunch. She said that all of the money is not normally spent. Meek voted against the ordinance.
The town continues its search for an animal control officer. Application information is available at Hope Town Hall.
Council approved a 2018 pay range increase of 2 percent for all county employees. The county's human resources consultant said that the cost of living rate was about 2.3 percent. The rate change does not mean each employee will receive a 2 percent raise, but the pay ranges for each position will increase. Individual employee raises will be set at the start of next year.
Council approved a surplus equipment sale for the town utilities department. Clouse said that they would be selling old equipment including a mower, a concrete mixer, a box grader, various trimmers and leaf blowers, among other items. He said they normally have such a sale every five years or so.
Council approved a plan to sell the former town well house property on Maple Street. The property is not large enough to build a new structure, Clouse said. The property would go up for bid by the public and likely be purchased by neighbors.
Heard an update about a future storm sewer project on Washington Street. Clouse said that the storm sewer in that area is collapsing and there is still an 84-year-old water main in the area. The estimated project cost is about $263,000.