Lanesville continues loan re-fi discussion
Mike Arnold, Contributing Writer
The Lanesville Town Council continued discussion of refinancing an existing loan for the town’s waterworks at its monthly meeting Jan. 13.
The original loan was obtained in 2005, and the council began looking into a possible refinance in 2019. Goals of the refinance include reducing the term by five years while also alleviating additional interest costs. Detailed requirements must be met since the funds were used for a municipal project and interest collected is tax-exempt, requiring documentation from the town that it is likewise a tax-exempt entity.
Town attorney John Smith agreed to further research the town’s options, based on what is possible under the circumstances.
“I’ll check on this and let you know,” Smith said.
Clerk-Treasurer Betsy Blocker said much of the information from the 2005 loan process remains available.
“Regardless of who we go with, there are certain procedures we have to follow,” Blocker added.
Council president Herb Schneider said he requested a representative from First Savings Bank, the institution with which the town initially pursued the refinance, visit it again to further address the matter. That conversation was planned for a special meeting last Thursday afternoon.
Town utility supervisor Matthew Beckman presented the council with his end-of-year report for waste removal, testing and other functions of the utility department. Beckman said in 2019 the town’s systems operated at 61% capacity. He also reported December 2019 water loss was 13%, or about 180,000 gallons, down from 17% the month prior.
Beckman also updated the council on efforts to resolve an ongoing matter resulting from damage to a four-inch water main on Lynnview Avenue on Nov. 11. The line was hit twice by utility trenching contractor Gehring Underground.
Gehring and the town were not able to agree on payment for necessary repairs. In addition, Gehring suggested it would bill the town for downtime resulting from work stoppage at the site while the pipe was patched.
Beckman has been communicating with Gehring Underground, and the town council agreed it will send Gehring a bill for the cost of the second repair and from there negotiations will continue.
The town received its sewer camera, Beckman reported, adding it has already been put to good use.
“I think it’s going to be very valuable for us, Beckman said.
Town utility clerk Mary Smith provided an update concerning a existing water leak at the town’s old firehouse. Water service was discontinued, she said, and the meter was checked on Jan. 8 and the water remained off.
Mary Smith also provided monthly utility highlights, which included: 1,290,827 gallons of water were billed; there were three new accounts and one closed account; 10 water bill adjustments, totaling $224.60, were completed; and seven shut-offs were initiated, along with 101 delinquent letters sent. She also mentioned three customers said they did not receive a December 2019 bill.
Schneider encouraged her to direct them to visit the town hall for assistance.
“Tell them if they want a duplicate bill, they can come in and get it,” he added.
Mary Smith also addressed the possibility that utility customers could opt for monthly usage charges to be deducted directly from their accounts. She indicated this arrangement has been mentioned previously by several customers and, while the billing system is equipped with the capability to process automatic drafts, a test run has yet to be executed. However, it remains something they will evaluate for the future.
“I know there’s a lot of interest in it,” she added.
In other business, the council:
Heard from attorney John Smith, who reported that work was completed on the town’s speed limit, intersection stops and traffic flow ordinance, which was presented for its second reading at the December 2019 council meeting.
Agreed to allow Beckman to remain as the town’s appointee to the Harrison County Regional Sewer District Board. (Lanesville will not be a voting member until 2021. The town, along with the towns of Corydon and Milltown, rotates voting rights.)
Approved, on Beckman’s recommendation, payment of an invoice from Chinn Equipment of Ramsey for rebuild of the lift cylinders, brakes and master cylinder on the town’s tractor.
Acknowledged Lanesville Marshal Tom Walther (who was not present at the meeting) completed and submitted the Standard Operating Procedure document he authored for the department and hopes it can be presented for formal approval at the February 2020 council meeting.
Discussed a large water leak for customer Pam Green, who reported being billed for usage of 91,000 gallons at a cost of about $3,000. Green received a prior adjustment on the bill; however, the amount due was still more than $1,000. Mary Smith said she followed the ordinary adjustment process, which included a full credit for sewer usage. “If she (Green) wants anything else, she’ll need to come in,” council member Linda Smith said of the bill.
Listened to Blocker’s report, which indicated she has been working on documents for the town’s Community Crossings grant from the Indiana Dept. of Transportation which will go toward upgrades on several town roadways. (The council approved two contracts for Chelsea Crump of River Hills Development Corp. to assist Blocker with this work). A special meeting will take place Thursday, Feb. 6, at 6 p.m. to open bids for the work.
Approved a contract for work related to the 2020 Census count boundary maps, also with River Hills, and not to exceed $1,000.
Th town council’s next regular board meeting will be Monday, Feb. 10, at 7 p.m. at the town hall.