Prior to its regularly scheduled meeting Monday evening, Milford Town Council held a public hearing on budget reductions for the 2014 budget. The cuts were mandated by the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance following the its review of the town’s budget.
DLGF directed the council to reduce the budget by $115,000, including $56,000 from the general budget and $59,000 from the motor vehicle highway fund. The cuts were mandated due to a reduction in assessed property valuation in the town.
The council unanimously approved previously negotiated cuts to the 2014 budget, which lowered the 2014 general budget to $340,260 and the MVH budget to $109,160.
Following the vote, Councilman Dan Cochran commented the council needs to come up with “better tools” in determining the budget. Councilman Doug Ruch offered a variety of “points to ponder,” which included ideas to consider to reduce the town’s expenditures. Ruch offered suggestions on how the council might evaluate the importance of spending outlays.
During the public input portion of the regular council meeting, Steve Morris, owner of Biowaste Technology, addressed the council regarding surcharges he received on his company’s sewage bill. The surcharges, totaling more than $16,000, were levied by the town because of the negative qualities of the waste the company sent to the Milford sewage treatment plant. Sewage plant operator Mark Brubaker informed the council on several occasions, Biowaste sent sewage that was “like sludge” that had the potential to cause significant damage to the plant’s operation. He added ammonia levels in Biowaste’s waste were extraordinarily high and outside the normal tolerance level.
Morris argued the charges were arbitrary and unreasonable, noting Biowaste “usually runs a good operation and that a couple of ‘hiccups’” have resulted in the surcharges. He sought financial relief regarding the surcharges, adding the fees were abnormally high in comparison to those issued by neighboring communities. Utilities Commissioner Randy Veach opined significant repairs need to be made to Biowaste’s facilities to correct the ongoing problems.
Following discussion, the council noted it could not jeopardize the town’s facilities for one customer and the surcharges were in place to financially protect the town from a catastrophic event that could be caused by situations such as this. The council agreed the surcharges were valid and must be paid by Biowaste, voting to allow repayment to be made in three equal monthly installments.
During departmental reports, Fire Chief Todd Haines noted the department’s annual chicken fundraiser would take place Nov. 5. He also discussed the fire department’s mutual aid agreements within the county and received permission to pursue a Mutual Aid Box Alarm System, allowing the department to become part of an automated system for dispensing mutual fire aid with nearby communities.
The council accepted the resignation of parks department director Justin Yoder, effective Sept. 20. It discussed options to fill the position and will consider the alternatives in the coming months.
Town Marshal Rich Mioto discussed with the council the ongoing parking concerns in the North Park subdivision. He noted there currently is no ordinance for parking in the subdivision, adding he understands the concerns of residents and maintenance and emergency personnel regarding access to the streets during times of need. The council agreed to continue pursuing the issue.
In his report, Veach noted a tree near the town’s well needs to be removed, for which he received approval to spend up to $400 to have the tree’s removal outsourced. His department will be responsible for the cleanup.
In a 2-1 vote, the council approved Veach’s request to replace a transfer switch and generator at the town’s well field, which will ensure continuous water service to the community in the event of an extended power outage. The accepted bid from Middlebury Electric was $36,835. Town Clerk Joellen Free agreed to pursue other financial avenues to pay for the project, including potential grants from Homeland Security and various local foundations.
Free also presented the proposed 2015 budget for the town, open for public review and discussion. The budget adoption will take place during the Milford Town Council’s next regularly scheduled meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 13.