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Commissioners table Milltown’s request for extra funding for treatment plant

Milltown needs $191,000 to help with a shortfall in funding for its wastewater treatment plant, Curt Hudson, president of the Milltown Town Council, told the Harrison County Commissioners Monday night. He asked for their help.
The three commissioners did nothing with the request, but will make a decision at their first meeting in February.
Hudson said that the Milltown council would like to move back to a 25-year rate payment for its customers, not the extended 35-year plan. The rate for Milltown customers ($44.90) would not change with additional funding from Harrison County.
With financial assistance from Harrison County, Milltown would be able to keep the 25-year plan, which is crucial, according to Pat Callahan, a CPA.
‘The only way we could keep the rates at 70 percent, is to extend the bond to 35 years,’ said Callahan. ‘But, it would exceed the life of the asset.’
If the 35-year plan was kept in place, it is possible a customer could be left paying for a plant that is no longer in use, in addition to a new plant, he said.
Funds are not needed for the infrastructure of the plant, which will be approved by the Indiana Dept. of Environmental Management at the beginning of next year, according to Vince Summers of Commonwealth Engineering.
Summers said the benchmark life span of a treatment plant, before major rehabilitation, is 20 years.
‘Instead of raising rates, we extended the term to 35 years,’ said Summers. ‘We thought we could get it back to the original plan, 25 years. I think that’s what it really boils down to.’
Commissioner J.R. Eckart asked about sidewalks that were built before the completion of the treatment plant in Milltown.
‘I don’t feel real well with the relationship with that,’ said Eckart. ‘We’ve got funding out there that I don’t know if it was used for the right thing. There’s a perception. You’re going to have to clear that to me.’
‘The real issue there ‘ I remember, I was there ‘ was why build sidewalks when the sewer system is in default?’ said Commissioner James Goldman. ‘I was told point blank, that’s all taken care of.’
Goldman also said Milltown council members should have informed the board of commissioners on their progress throughout the project.
‘You don’t just take the money and never come back,’ said Goldman.
Hudson said that was done during the previous town council’s tenure and had nothing to do with him. Hudson has been on the town council for four years.
Goldman said the biggest issue with funding is that Crawford County is not participating, and Milltown needs to participate also. Fifty-six percent of Milltown’s residents live in Crawford County, according to Goldman.
Hudson said his council plans to ask Crawford County to fund part of the $191,000. Crawford County initially gave $50,000 for the treatment plant project.
‘They’ve got $50,000 (in the project); we’ve got a half million,’ said Goldman. ‘I personally don’t think Harrison County should pay the whole bill, $191,000.’
The Harrison County Regional Sewer District wrote a letter of support for $135,000 funding for Milltown in March. The commissioners never received the letter until recently, according to Goldman. The letter was written by board president Tom Tucker. It states that the district voted in favor of the request, with the stipulation that an additional 10,000 gallons per day be reserved by the plant for the district’s use.
Goldman asked Hudson about the accounting of riverboat money for the town of Milltown. In 2006, the Harrison County Council asked each town that receives riverboat money to give an account of its spending, Goldman said, and Milltown never turned in a report.
‘Would you like it this week?’ asked Hudson.
‘I’d like it in 2006,’ said Goldman.
‘These are things we need to do, be made aware, and we need to do it,’ said Hudson.
Goldman brought up the Milltown bridge project, which will be the topic of discussion at a meeting of the Milltown Town Council on Thursday, Dec. 27, at 9 a.m. at the town hall.
‘It looks like $1 million from Harrison County will go to that project,’ said Goldman.
‘You’re spending a lot of money in Milltown,’ said Hudson.
‘We have projects, too,’ said Goldman. ‘We’ve helped a lot of people in a lot of ways. I don’t think anyone can look at us and say, ‘They didn’t help us.’ ‘
‘Do we want to take away from other uses to pay down an overage when it won’t affect citizens?’ asked Eckart.
Eckart made a motion to table the issue until the first meeting in February.
‘I’d like a couple of weeks to think about it and have the letter on riverboat spending,’ said Commissioner Terry Miller.
‘You’ll see in the next few months, I promise you that you’ll see a plan for Milltown for five years,’ said Hudson.
In other matters Monday night:
‘ A public hearing was held for vacating public right-of-way of Pease Lane. Jim Allen is the property owner who wants to vacate the county road. In response to Miller’s question about the benefit of closing the road, Allen said his house is close to the road and he wants to maintain and blacktop it.
Anthony Coffman, who opposes the request, said it is the only access point to 50 acres owned by his mother, Shirley Coffman. ‘We’d like to see the county road remain open so we have access to the 50 acres,’ he said. ‘There is no other access point to a county road.’
Virginia Garwood, who owns a dairy farm that adjoins Pease Lane, said the vacating of the county road would devalue her property. ‘We want the same rights as everyone else on development,’ she said.
‘Every time someone comes in to vacate a property, everyone’s agreed,’ said Miller.
‘I’ve never seen a close of road and landowners complain,’ said Goldman.
The commissioners will decide on the request at their Jan. 22 meeting, which begins at 7:30 p.m.
‘Unless you have a signed agreement, no way I’ll do it,’ said Miller.
‘ The commissioners passed a motion to go to the council for an additional $1,064.40 for Gloria Wood, executive director of CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates). The salary for the volunteer coordinator was calculated based upon less than a full service year.