By Valerie Werkmeister
New Harmony residents enjoy the lowest water rates around. A recommendation by council member, Linda Warrum, will increase rates by 10 percent in an attempt to close the gap on some of the town’s water and sewer debt. Still, if the recommendation is approved, the proposed increases will be the lowest in the area.
Warrum presented figures to council members during their recent meeting on March 21. She provided figures for Poseyville, Mount Vernon, Crossville, Ill., and Winslow, Ind. Currently, New Harmony water users pay $5.20 per 1,000 gallons for the first 4,000 gallons of water with a base rate of $20.80. Mt. Vernon charges a base rate of $28.16 for the first 4,000 gallons; Crossville charges $36.58; Winslow charges $39.52 for the first 3,500 gallons and Poseyville charges the highest of all – $44.70 for 4,000 gallons.
Warrum recommended a 10 percent increase that would bring the base rate up to $22.88. Two additional 10 percent increases, one for 2014 would raise the rate to $25.16 and another in 2015 would top out at $27.64.
There is currently a 10 percent deficit between revenue and expenses amounting in $27,206.57. The water debt stands at $1.197 million and the sewer debt totals $959,000. Of the $20.80 paid on each water bill, only $5.80 goes towards the water debt while $28 goes towards the sewer debt.
She noted that Poseyville increased rates in three phases: the first in 2008 with an increase to $35.30, in 2009 it increased to $40 and in 2010, it increased to $44.70.
“Even if we raise the water rates three times, we will still be lower than anyplace in the area,” Warrum stated.
Council members took the information under advisement and no action was taken at the time.
Street superintendent Bobby Grider informed council members that the town’s chipper truck is being repaired. Town employees have been unable to pick up large debris piles. They hoped to have the truck back and operational last Friday. He added that Murphy Park is partially open. He will wait at least another week in hopes of warmer weather before opening bathrooms.
Parks board president Barb McConnell reported that the board had decided to install one floodlight to try to deter vandalism at Murphy Park. The light will point towards Playtopia. Two additional lights may be installed at a future date.
McConnell advised the park board currently has $2,500 set aside from a Blaffer Trust grant and $1,000 from proceeds of a chili cook-off to purchase and plant trees this spring. In addition, they are applying for a grant from Alcoa for an additional $1,000.
Kiwanis members will conduct a service project cleaning Murphy Park on April 13. Work will begin at 9:30 a.m. and volunteers are welcome.
McConnell also asked council members to annex South Road as part of the trail project. Board President Joe Straw advised that further research on the matter would be necessary. He tabled the matter until the next meeting.
Council members heard from Town Marshall Scott Champlain regarding golf cart registrations. Champlain scheduled registrations from 3 p.m. – 5 p.m. last Friday. He cautioned that all registrations must be complete by April 30, or the fee will double. Registrants should bring their insurance cards and must have mirrors and lights on the golf cart.
Fred Frayser asked the council to approve a special appreciation day on April 27, for the 175th anniversary of the New Harmony Workingman’s Institute. It is the oldest operating public library in the State of Indiana and the only remaining entity out of the original 144 that were created. The council approved his request.
A special clean-up day has been designated for the road exiting town. Council member Karen Walker stated that volunteers meet at 5 p.m. at the cemetery and work towards I-69 picking up trash.
Council member Linda Warrum reported that the cemetery has accumulated a lot of debris as flowers and other items have been scattered by recent storms. She added the current rules state that flowers should be placed in vases or on saddles. Shepherd hooks and other miscellaneous items are not allowed. Items are to be picked up as soon as possible or they will be discarded.
In other business, council members approved:
•A restroom cleaning contract for Ribeyre Gym submitted by Chris Laughbaum. She agreed to clean the bathrooms three times per week from April 22 – October 13, for $50 per week. She will also conduct spot checks throughout the week and clean as necessary.
•A request by Historic New Harmony to close North Street during Heritage week beginning April 15.
•A request by Steve Cochran to hold a weekly Farmer’s Market in Church Park beginning April 13 – November 30.
•A request to hold the 12th Golden Raintree Antique Show June 8-9.
•A request to hold the Arts in Harmony event on May 4-5.
The next regular meeting will be held at 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 18, in the town hall.
By Valerie Werkmeister
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