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Georgetown employees to receive 5% raises in ’23

Georgetown employees to receive 5% raises in ’23 Georgetown employees to receive 5% raises in ’23
By Mike Arnold, Contributing Writer

The Georgetown Town Council voted to increase employee pay rates by 5% for 2023 as part of its annual salary ordinance, passed during its regular monthly meeting Nov. 21 at the town hall.
With options to consider 3%, 4% and 5% raises on the table, Councilman Billy Haller said due to inflationary concerns, he favored 5%.

“I figured that was a starting point,” he added.

Council president Chris Loop elaborated on elements of the salary proposal, whereby the council and recently-hired employees would be excluded. Loop and Billy Haller, along with vice president Ben Stocksdale and Councilwoman Kathy Haller supported 5% increases, while councilman Gary Smith preferred the discussion begin at 4%. After some conversation, the council unanimously voted to extend the 5% hikes.

Loop also provided an update on an ongoing issue being examined by the council, involving selection of a new trash collection contractor. The town’s agreement with Eco-Tech, of Jeffersonville, ended June 30 after 10 years of serving about 1,500 households. Arrangements were made for Eco-Tech to continue providing services on a monthly basis. While that gap was filled in the short term, it also comes with an enhanced price tag.

The council has been researching proposals from Eco-Tech and Sweetland LLC, of New Albany, after opening sealed bids from both firms at its October meeting.

The council had yet to reach a decision on the firm it will use, Loop said, adding he would like to go ahead and plan for rate analysis. He also explained the council was hoping to discuss further at a special meeting prior to its regular December meeting. As a result, the council tabled action on the trash initiative.

Due to conflicts, next month’s meeting was rescheduled to Thursday, Dec. 15, with the special meeting on the trash collection contract at 5:30 p.m. followed by the regular meeting at 6:30.

In another matter, Loop provided a status report on a plan where the town has the opportunity to partner with Duke Energy to upgrade each of its 132 street lights with new LED fixtures. Currently, the town pays about $1,800 per month in electric charges for those streetlights. Under the Duke LED proposal, the town’s fees would be reduced to $861.61 per month.

Loop met with Duke officials earlier in November and said the monthly bill includes the changeover and new equipment, with 60 days allotted for completion.

The council voted unanimously to move forward with the Duke LED lighting service agreement as proposed.

“Let’s do it,” Kathy Haller said.

Loop agreed, adding: “I think that’s a nice way to get that project done.”

Smith supported the initiative as well, pointing out the cost savings the town stood to realize.

“That frees up $1,000 a month to put somewhere else,” he added.

The council was addressed by Tamara Markland of the Floyd County Emergency Management Agency. Markland spoke regarding the county’s multi-hazard mitigation plan, which includes Georgetown. The plan covers actions in place to address disasters resulting from flooding and other issues and is described as a multi-agency plan. Funding dollars are available every five years for municipalities with a current plan, she said.

The council voted to adopt the plan by way of resolution, and Loop signed on behalf of the town.
Stan Walk and John Beams, of the Destination Georgetown organization, delivered a report to the council of projects the group has begun, along with areas of emphasis for 2023.

Beams said clean-up, including placement of dumpsters, is underway at the former Cook’s Marine property along S.R. 64. Destination Georgetown is looking at grant funding to assist with rehabilitation of the building, which might see future use as a museum or office. He also mentioned the Indiana Landmarks Foundation has planning grants available for similar initiatives. The building’s owners do not intend to sell but have been on board with the stabilization work. Assistance has also been requested to trim trees and brush on the property, Beams added.

“I think it’s been a good step there,” Beams said.

Walk spoke to the council concerning a request for a forgivable loan for mailboxes that would be relocated for a segment of homes along S.R. 64 and replaced with new, double-opening, matching mailboxes. Approximately 33 mailboxes, costing about $500 each, would be installed during the first round. Letters of permission would be necessary from individual residents, and bids would also be sought to supply the mailboxes. Town engineer Bob Woosley said he would check with the Indiana Dept. of Transportation regarding any necessary permits.

The council and Destination Georgetown will continue looking into the parameters of the project in 2023, as it could likely take six months to a year to complete.

“All we can do is try,” Beams said.

Significant discussion also occurred with property owner Robert Jackson related to a lien placed on his property at 1917 Canal Lane due to outstanding utility fees. Jackson, who rents the home to a tenant, said he had been living out of state and that issues began after a busted water line in 2021 led to 300,000 gallons of water usage during a monthly billing cycle.

Sewer was not impacted, Loop said.

Issues continued in the time since when the town’s water and sewer bills were split between providers and the bills sent to the tenant, who Jackson said hadn’t paid regularly, resulting in the lien being initiated by his mortgage company.

“I just found out about it,” Jackson said.

Loop agreed this resulted in a difficult situation.

“I think the council is willing to work with you,” Loop said. “We can probably work with you on what was in arrears based on what your standard usage was. We can figure up what the new bill could be for what was currently owed.”

Clerk-treasurer Julia Keibler said the average monthly water charge for the home was about $37, which, when recalculated, meant Jackson would be responsible for $1,147.45. That, while lowering the bill and eliminating penalties, would not address the mortgage company lien, which was outside the town’s scope, and any further questions related to resolving those items would be better addressed by an attorney.

“My other concern is the lack of payment,” Keibler added.

In other business, the council:

•Voted to contract with Absolut for cybersecurity services at a rate of $1,392 per month with $3,500 due upfront. Quotes from cybersecurity firms were presented at the October meeting.

•Agreed to split with Destination Georgetown a $9,625 fee from Ball State University for a tourism study.

•Discussed, with police chief Travis Speece, prices for movable speed signs. Speece will provide additional information at the December meeting.

•Received updates from Woosley about several projects, including: replacement of a blower motor at the wastewater treatment plant, repair and replacement of guide rail brackets, review of costs for regular lift station cleaning at four main lift stations to remove grease and grit; and approval a change order to cover costs for sidewalk repair on a surface deemed to be a tripping hazard as part of a streetscape improvement project wrapping up in town.