November 29, 2023 at 6:10 a.m.

Town Council Meeting Notes 11/21

By JESSICA DECKARD | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

Ed Johnson was not present at the meeting. Ohmer Miller called the meeting to order with the opening prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance.

Minutes from the September 13, 2023, meeting were up for approval. Herby Asher motioned to approve them. John Walstad seconded the motion. It passed 4 – 0.

Approval of claims was next on the agenda. John Walstad motioned to approve the claims with Herby Asher seconding the motion. It passed unanimously. Diane Burton then bought up two missed claims. $1,470 for gas and $53 for Major’s. Herby Asher motioned to approve them. John Walstad seconded the motion. It passed unanimously.

Diane Burton was next on the agenda with salary ordinance number 2023-06. The change was to add a Christmas gratitude bonus of a $250 Visa gift card to be paid to all full-time employees from the general fund. Burton stated that a motion must be made to suspend the first and second reading if the bonus was to be paid in time for Christmas. Herby Asher made the motion with John Walstad seconding it. It passed 4 – 0.

Burton then presented the first reading of salary ordinance 2023-05. It gives a three percent increase across the board. It also changes how salaries are paid. Herby Asher made a motion to approve the first reading. John Walstad seconded the motion. It passed unanimously.

Employee handbook ordinance 2023-07 was next on the agenda with Burton presenting. It contains compliance updates for six policies, language changes, added a whistleblower policy, and changes to PTO after 90 days. Full time employees will receive 48 hours PTO after 90 days, and part time employees will receive 24 hours PTO after ninety days. It will also allow holiday pay after 90 days. Herby Asher made a motion to pass the first reading of ordinance 2023-07. John Walstad seconded the motion. It passed 4 – 0.

Tony Akles of Strand and Associates then presented an adoption of street cuts permit for the tearing up of pavement. He spoke with town lawyer Scott Andrews to see if there was currently a policy or standards for when pavement or concrete is cut for repairs. It would require and permit and give general conditions for repair. A vote from the council was needed to adopt such a policy. Scott Andrews had written resolution 2023-07. Ohmer asked if companies who performed this sort of work have an open bond. Only the gas company was the response. The resolution does not include what to do to fix damage if repairs were not done. There were questions as to how the resolution would be enforced or fined. Scott Andrews was not there to answer questions. Herby Asher motioned to approve the resolution. John Walstad seconded the motion. It passed unanimously.

Akles then presented the Goshen Meadows preliminary engineering report and asset management plan. The application to get SRF (State Revolving Funding) for the Goshen Meadows project is due April 1, 2023. Akles will help Town Manager Jason Eckart submit the application to get funding for the new pump station at Goshen Meadows. The project has a cost of $1.5 or $1.6 million. The funding will serve as a match for the OCRA (Office of Community and Rural Affairs) grant of $700,000. The fee for the PER (Preliminary Engineering Report) would be part of the grant match if awarded. The money would come out of ARP (American Rescue Plan) funds. Herby Asher motioned for Ackles to complete the PER and asset management plan. John Walstad seconded the motion. It passed 4 – 0.

Town Manager Jason Eckart then presented the CCMG (Community Crossing Matching Grant) award. The town has been awarded $103,075 in grant funds. He asked for resolution number 2023-06 to get the grant funds into the town’s account. The grant received is to get streets crack sealed. He would like to start the bidding process while it is cold and dry to get the cracks filled in while the asphalt is still shrunk. Work cannot start until the beginning of next year. Strand and Associates will handle the bidding process for a cost of $1500 or less. The crack sealing will be done in the winter, with the liquid coating called action pave to take place in the summer. John Walstad motioned to approve resolution 2023-06 and Shanon Pitman seconded the motion. It passed unanimously. Herby Asher then motioned to approve Strand for the bid process up to $1500. It passed 4 – 0.

Council then moved on to new business. Billy Kirkham presented the dental and vision insurance renewal. There was no increase. He also requested to move the renewal time to the same time as the medical insurance renewal. Herby Asher asked when the renewal dates were. Heath insurance renewal is 10/1 and dental and vision renewal is 10/1. Herby Asher made the motion to approve the renewal and change the renewal time. John Walstad seconded the motion. It passed unanimously.

Jessica Deckard was next on the agenda with a request for Christmas of Yesteryear. She asked for permission to hold the live Nativity inside the shelter house. Ohmer Miller asked if the animals would be loose and if they would be kept away from children. Jessica replied they would be tethered, and children would not be near them. Herby Asher motioned to approve the request. John Walstad seconded it. It passed 4 – 0.

Dan Fleming was next on the agenda for the Community Center. He requested permission to use the Square for Weinachten on the Square December 1, 2, 8, and 9, 2023. There will be more vendor barns this year. Eight total. There will also be hayrides with Jeff Yarnell’s hay wagon to view Christmas lights. The wagon has sides and stairs for loading. The wagon will be pulled by a tractor. The route has not been determined. Ohmer Miller asked how long for each ride and how many people could ride. Sixteen people could ride at once and the route length would be about equal to a lap around the square. Ohmer asked if there was a monitor assigned to each wagon. That had not been discussed. Fleming said he would include that in the requirements. Ohmer asked how many mini barn shops would be set up on the south side of the Square. Eight would be set up with four repeat vendors. Fleming also asked for permission to move in the buildings on Thursday so there would be ample time to arrange them. Herby Asher asked when they would be gone. Sunday the tenth was the response. Fleming asked the town when the lighted Christmas trees would be in place so he could be sure not to block them like last year. Shanon Pittman asked David Clouse if he had a problem with the buildings moving in on Thursday. He did not. Herby Asher had questions about the wagon ride route. The route will depend on the Christmas lights. The route will be designed to see the most lights. Asher then asked Town Marshal Matt Tallent for suggestions for the route. Tallent replied that could not be determined until the lights and decorations were up. Jason Eckart asked if the Community Center was properly insured with liability coverage of up to $1 million and asked for a copy of the policy. A motion was requested for approval pending a monitor and proof of liability insurance and permission to begin set up Thursday. Ohmer Miller asked for a limit on liability of $1 million like for the Goodies, Goblins and Ghost Stories hayride. Shanon Pittman made the motion, with Herby Asher seconding it. It passed unanimously.

Ben Miller with Main Street of Hope was next on the agenda. He was asking permission to place a storage shed on the old water tower property owned by the town. Main Street has accumulated supplies and decorations used for town events held for Easter, Halloween, and Christmas. These supplied are currently scattered among board members. A central location is needed to store them. Main Street wants to get an 18' or 20’ storage shed on skids. As Main Street is a town organization Miller asked for the shed to be placed on town property. The empty lot behind Jake Miller’s office where the old water tower sat on Harrison Street would be an ideal central location. It is unusable by the town. The lot is 45' x 61’ pr .064 acres. There are four-meter pits for the Tedd Mill property and library located there. David Clouse asked that the shed be mobile in case of needed repairs. Miller commented it would need to be placed on gravel for a good base. He would coordinate with David to do that without disturbing utilities. Miller said Main Street would pay for the gravel if the town did not want to. Ohmer Miller felt that Main Street should provide the gravel and use David and his services to cut in because of the meters. Security would be provided by lighting on the south side of the library. There is also a pole a security light can go on. The liability insurance would be carried through the town. HOH (Heritage of Hope) would carry personal business property insurance. Herby Asher asked if it would be gated. It would not as the area was open on many sides. Herby Asher motioned to approve the use of town property to put a storage shed on with the exception that Main Street would provide the gravel and use David and his equipment to install. John Walstad seconded the motion. Shanon Pittman asked if the shed would have electricity. It would not. The motion passed 4 – 0.

Chad Emmit then presented the Fire Department contract and budget for 2024. The fire department services would remain the same as in past years. The budget included an increase of $2,700. That increase was just shy of three percent from $90,500 to $93,200. Herby Asher asked to see an itemized financial accounting. Chad Emmit said he had submitted and updated budget with a financial statement. Jason Eckart had received it and said it did not answer Herby’s questions, but it did show where the money had went. Eckart had not forwarded it on to council. Herby said if Jason was OK with it then so was he. Ohmer Miller motioned the town give the fire department the same amount as last year, $90,500. Herby Asher seconded the motion. Shanon Pittman asked what the three percent increase was for. Emmit said it was for new gear, which expires every ten years. The cost to replace two sets was $9,000 and two sets were replaced annually. The fire department was also purchasing new extrication equipment at a cost of $63,556 to replace equipment that was now obsolete. It will be paid for over five years. The new ladder truck has been paid off early. Every year the arial device on the ladder truck must be serviced at a cost of a couple of thousand dollars. Ladders must also be certified every year and the cost for that increases every other year. Money was also needed to do OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration) training every year. Herby Asher mentioned there were three budget totals. One for the town, one for the township and the total budget. Township funding was $52,000 and town funding was $92,500 with a total budget of $159,000. Voting took place with all four votes approving last year’s amount.

Diane Burton then extended an invitation to the employee Christmas party to be held at the Hope Fire Department on December 12, 2023, at 6 p.m. A total of 28,000 Visa Card rewards points will be used to purchase prizes. Food will be $600 including a dessert and catered in by WILLow LeaVes of Hope. John Walstad motioned to approve it. Herby Asher seconded the motion. It passed unanimously.

David Clouse and Tony Ackles then presented a water tower inspection. The water tower must be inspected every five years. It has been six years since the last survey. Ohmer Miller asked about the process. Strand and Associates will send in two associates with a ladder to inspect the tower. Cell phone companies will have to be contacted to see where they can’t walk due to radiation. They will take pictures and send a report for review. They will look for rust spots, paint damage and bolts at wrong angles. Ohmer asked how much the water tower flexed. It does not flex much due to a six- or eight-foot concrete foundation. The inspection would only be on the inside, as inspecting the inside would require a costly draining of the tower. The tower was last painted in 2017, both inside and outside. Akles only expected to see limited places of damage. Ohmer Miller asked how much the inspection would cost. The cost was not to exceed $7500. Strand has their own climbing equipment. John Walstad motioned to approve the inspections. Herby Asher seconded the motion. It passed 4 – 0.

David Clouse and Tony Akles then presented a utility survey Centerpoint project to locate gas mains, water, sewer, and storm drains for a GIS system. David showed the council a paper map he was currently using from 2005. It was updated in 2016 when 40 percent of water lines had changed with the water project. He would like an electronic system so Gaith could use his phone to enter latitude and longitude coordinates and locate systems. The system would be added to the county system so the town would not have to pay their own subscription. Such a system would also help with the asset management plan. The age of pipes and projected lifetimes could be tracked. Herby Asher motioned to approve the survey. Shanon Pittman seconded the motion. It would cover Harrison to Walnut and South to Grand at this time.

Town Marshal Matt Tallent then presented an animal use agreement. K9 officer Duke has passed away. He would like to move to a new K9 Gunner. He needs a new animal use agreement signed for Gunner. Gunner is certified through Guardian K9. Herby Asher motioned to approve the agreement from November 2023 to November 2024. John Walstad seconded the motion. Shanon Pittman asked how old Gunner was. He will be four in February. The motion passed 4 – 0.

Tallent then presented security cameras for town hall. The old system had crapped out after 12 years. He wanted to get a quote though Hoosier Security which would include an electronic door buzzer system.

The meeting was then opened for additional comments. Tony Akles and Diane Burton spoke about a capital asset management plan from Strand and Associates, including streets and all assets made necessary by new government financial reporting regulation GASB (Governmental Accounting Standards Board) 34. An asset plan has never been done professionally. The state board of accounts will be looking for one in the future. The state provided spreadsheets of examples. Diane will get an estimate from Strand for an asset management plan.

The meeting was adjourned.