The Harrison County Board of Commissioners Monday night sanctioned Milltown’s plans to repair and upgrade its sewer system, but left the funding issue to the fiscally responsible county council.
Milltown’s plan for the $1.9 million project calls for a $500,000 contribution from Harrison County. Crawford would kick in $50,000.
The balance of the funds would come from a Community Focus Fund grant of $500,000 and U.S. Rural Development Fund loan of $921,000.
The Harrison County Council is expected to hear an appeal from Milltown for the money at the Monday night meeting. Funding would come from riverboat revenue.
The small town, split nearly down the middle by the Harrison-Crawford line, is under an agreed order with the Indiana Dept. of Environmental Management (IDEM) to improve its sewage collection lines and treatment plant or face stiff fines.
The system is now polluting Blue River, according to Robert L. Woosley of Heritage Engineering. ‘It’s a pretty severe situation,’ he told the commissioners. ‘IDEM is watching them petty closely.’
The new system is expected to increase rates by 68 percent, bringing the rate from $27.26 to $45.90 for its 382 residential customers, 44 percent of whom are in Harrison County.
Harrison County’s money will benefit the Harrison County residents as well as Milltown’s.
The town officials have said although they aren’t interested in expanding Milltown’s service area, they are willing to work with the future regional district to allow effluent to be treated at the Milltown plant.
Woosley said Milltown officials acknowledge that the previous Milltown board misled Harrison County officials in recent years as to the seriousness of the wastewater treatment system when Milltown made funding requests for items of much less importance (such as walking trails and sidewalks). ‘The new town board can only apologize for these past discrepancies and ask for assistance in moving forward,’ Woosley said.
Efforts to find grant sources to take the place of Harrison County’s money have not been successful, Woosley said.
In other business Monday night, the commissioners:
‘ Unanimously adopted an ordinance establishing a 40 mph speed limit on Corydon-Ramsey Road and Milltown-Frenchtown Road. Since ordinances are required before limits can be posted, county engineer Kevin Russel said the countywide project will take some time. The engineer’s office is now conducting speed studies for Corydon Ridge Road, Russel said.
‘ Signed a contract with The Bonar Group engineering firm of Indianapolis, Fort Wayne and Scottsburg for the design of a connector road from Lanesville to S.R. 64 west of Georgetown. The cost is $176,500 for the design. Federal dollars are expected to cover 90 percent of the project’s expenses.
‘ Agreed to ask the council for $15,000 in riverboat revenue to purchase a second van, at the request of Marion Wallace, Harrison County’s veterans service officer. The current van, which has 50,000 miles, was purchased with a grant from the Harrison County Community Foundation. The Veterans Administration covers all the extra costs involved in using the van, such as fuel, to transport veterans to the VA Hospital in Louisville or to other medical appointments.
Commissioner Jim Heitkemper’s motion to ask the council for the money from riverboat funds was seconded by the chair, J.R. Eckart. Commissioner James Goldman declined to second the motion because he said there were too few miles on the current van for it to need replacing.
Wallace said Harrison County now has 3,500 veterans ‘ the ninth largest veteran population in Indiana.
‘ Passed an amended sign ordinance which replaces the one dated last year. No penalties or permit fees are imposed, so the ordinance became official with the unanimous vote of the three commissioners.
‘ Received a quarterly report from Lifelong Learning director Doug Robson showing the agency has served 327 students and generated nearly $10,000 in revenue so far this year.
‘ Turned a sympathetic ear to the Lanesville Town Board’s request for money to pay a full-time police staff but made no immediate offer to help. ‘We’ve been beat to death in the Live Wire for the last few weeks,’ Lanesville Town Board President Don Hamblen told the commissioners. ‘We’ve been trying to figure out how to come up with more money to allow our marshals’ more hours to patrol.
Town Chief Larry Borden said the two-man force is in a catch-22, because no grants are available to small, inactive forces, and the Lanesville force is small and inactive because there’s no money to pay for a full-time police force. And riverboat money isn’t supposed to be used to pay for on-going salaries, other than the police officers hired when the boat arrived, the commissioners stressed.
Still, Eckart told the town officers: ‘Let’s don’t call it a dead issue just yet. It’s not a dead issue by any means. We need to think about it …’
Council chair Gary Davis, who was in the audience, said, ‘Rules are made so you can have exceptions. I’m not sure after all is said and done, we will feel comfortable making an exception in this case.
‘In the meantime, I would suggest you quit reading Live Wire.’
Davis invited the town force to the next council meeting to discuss the issue.
‘Thanks for listening,’ both Hamblen and Borden said.