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Lanesville continues W. Pennington extension

Town disconnect ordinance passed
Lanesville continues W. Pennington extension Lanesville continues W. Pennington extension
Mike Arnold, Contributing Writer

The Lanesville Town Council discussed continued pursuit of easements and right-of-way acquisition for its West Pennington Street utility extension project during its regular council meeting Jan. 11 at the town hall.

Timothy (Mike) Gruver purchased the former Szabo property last year, which includes duplexes and will be impacted by the extension.

Gruver attended council meetings late last year and was briefed on the project and the town’s plans. Gruver was not present at last week’s meeting, but town attorney John Smith said an engineer was revising the property’s legal description and soon two appraisers would be selected to determine values for use in obtaining the necessary easements.

The two appraisals should be completed within 30 days, Smith said, and the average of the two amounts would then be used to move forward with the transaction.

Smith told the council he would check on availability of two appraisers and also recommended the town conduct a work session with Dave Derrick, of Derrick Engineering, to walk through additional project details. He also indicated that even if Gruver elected to donate the land for the easement to the town, the appraisals would likely remain necessary.

Council president Herb Schneider also recommended the town schedule an executive session to further discuss funding for the utility extension with the Indiana Finance Authority.

In another utility-related matter, Smith provided details on a proposed disconnect fee ordinance for the town. Language in the ordinance outlined several items, including appeals and notification procedures, costs for notification and raising the disconnect fee from $30 to $50.

The council voted unanimously to adopt the ordinance.

Town utility superintendent Matthew Beckman reported that December water usage and gallons lost was the highest of the year. He also mentioned that a water audit and water asset management plan had been completed. He noted some of the findings included lack of a secondary water source, not utilizing drive-by metering and no established policy on calibration.

“Our metering needs to be addressed,” he said.

Beckman presented two quotes for upgrading the system to drive-by metering, which he said was not mandatory, but strongly suggested. One quote to implement for the entire system was $180,000 from Sensus, while the other was from Wallers Meters, which the town currently uses, for $105,060.

While the Sensus quote was much higher, Beckman said its meters were backed by 20-year warranties.

Beckman said another option would be to upgrade a portion of the town’s meters, which Wallers would agree to charging $19,345 for 48 meters, equipment and software.

Sensus did not offer the option for a partial upgrade, Beckman said, adding that he was waiting for another quote from Utility Supply and wanted to make the council aware of the possibility of upgrading all or part of the system to drive-by meters.

“Just food for thought,” Beckman said. “I get another quote, I’ll send it to you all.”

Beckman also acknowledged the town’s utilities operated at 57% capacity for 2020, which was in compliance. Several areas of infiltration were also located during the past year, he said.

Beckman and the council also discussed the town system’s ability to accommodate possible future growth, something Schneider said they are monitoring closely.

Beckman will also be working on information used in submission of an application to the Indiana Dept. of Transportation on the town’s behalf, seeking grant funding through the annual Community Crossings program. Community Crossings funds require a local match component (25% of the proposed project costs for towns with populations below 10,000, such as Lanesville) and are designated to be used for local road and street upgrades.

The application deadline is Jan. 29, and the council voted to contract with The Wheatley Group to assist with the application process, at a cost of $4,500.

Beckman said he was also awaiting final budget numbers for the town streets, and the council agreed decisions on which streets to submit for paving in the grant proposal would be made in an executive session, set for Jan. 19.

Town Marshal Melvin (Lee) Hancock addressed the council, explaining his reserve officers worked more than 60 hours in December, which he calculated as a savings to the town of $928. He said, by his records, work of the reserves has saved the town about $6,052 since he was hired last year.

Hancock further reported that no major incidents occurred in town during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

Hancock also cautioned about recent thefts from vehicles reported in Georgetown, Sellersburg and Salem. Generally, he added, victims have reported leaving vehicles unlocked. Hancock said he was not aware of any incidents so far in Lanesville but wanted to make residents aware.

“It’s all around us,” he said.

The town police department was also the recipient of a donation of four new fire extinguishers. Hancock said the extinguishers will be placed in the department’s vehicles and the donation was valued at about $400.

Hancock also provided an update about a grant the town received in November from the Indiana Public Employee Program. Funds should be received later in January and are eligible for use on employee safety equipment.

“We will spend it during the year to get some of the things we need,” he said.

Hancock also mentioned he was notified the Harrison County Highway Dept. plans to close the road at Tandy Road and S.R. 62 for up to 90 days as it repairs a bridge. The timetable could vary, depending on weather.

In other business, the council:

Heard from Hancock that work continues on revisions to the department’s standard operating procedures, which he hopes to have completed for presentation to the council at its February meeting.

Received a summary from utility clerk Amanda Ballew, which mentioned December’s activity included issuing 472 bills; establishing two new accounts and closing two existing accounts; finalizing three adjustments; sending 39 delinquency letters; and executing nine utility shut-offs.

Discussed a listing of water tap-on fees from nearby utilities, provided by Ballew, including Georgetown, Edwardsville, Corydon and Greenville. Lanesville’s current fees are $1,250 for town residents and $1,425 for those outside the town. The council asked Ballew to check on the fees for Palmyra and Marengo and bring those figures to the February meeting for additional discussion.

Acknowledged the report of Clerk-Treasurer Elizabeth (Betsy) Blocker that included packets of documents detailing state and county funds received, account balances and bank reconciliations.

Agreed to provide an adjustment to a customer with a substantial leak resulting in a $1,415 water bill. Beckman located the leak while reading the meter, and the account holders repaired the leak themselves. Following the adjustment, the council will allow the customer to make monthly payments on the remaining balance.

Received an update from Beckman that he will follow up regarding the fencing installation project around the wastewater lift station at the Lanesville ballfields.