MILFORD —Milford Town Council got down to business Monday evening, Dec. 14, in a three hour session that included the passage of a motion to raise water rates by as much as $11 per month effective January 2016 in a two-to-one vote.
The council, which had already voted to raise the rates, chose to forego a gradual implementation during three years, choosing instead an all-at-once course. The return of Council President Bob Cockburn broke a deadlock at November’s session, as he joined Councilman Dan Cochran to vote for a single-phase implementation. Councilman Doug Ruch, in favor of a gradual phase-in, was opposed.
Cochran cited the town’s inability to save money and the fact Milford’s rates will still be “third lowest in the county,” adding, “How are we going to fix anything?” Cochran and Cockburn rejected the idea the town’s emergency fund should be used for maintenance of utilities.
The council also settled another issue held over from November by voting to sign a letter to Indiana Department of Environmental Management approving sewage management plans for nine remaining lots in Milford’s North Park development.
Kevin Biggs, owner of Ideal Suburban Homes and Kevin McDermott of Lockhart and Associates were once again on hand to ask the council’s approval, required by IDEM. In November, the council asked McDermott, project engineer, to present a plan showing 36 inches of cover for sewage pipe which was not to cross proposed or existing lots, which he did.
However, Ruch and utilities superintendent Randy Veach remained skeptical of the project, insisting a lift station is necessary, and citing a now-lapsed surety bond from 2003 allocating the roughly $35,000 necessary. Citing the IDEM’s requirements, Ruch told Biggs, “You’re the developer here. It looks to me you abide or you don’t.”
Biggs and McDermott deemed the lift station unnecessary; furthermore, Biggs indicated the remaining nine lots would become financially untenable should he be required to take on the expense. McDermott also argued expansion to the east will require a lift station regardless due to the flatness of the land. “If IDEM approves it why not the town?” he asked.
Cochran agreed and said further expansion would be “that developer’s concern” whether it is Ideal or someone else.
Cockburn also indicated McDermott had met the requirements laid out at the November meeting. Cochran and Cockburn voted to sign the allocation of funds letter to IDEM. Ruch abstained from voting and said the surety bond should be “dealt with before annexation.”
After lengthy consideration, the council also voted to raise employees salaries $650 for the year, rather than the 3 percent originally allocated in the budget. The lesser raise was due to a raise in medical insurance, picked up by the town with no employee contribution. “Insurance has killed us this year,” said Cochran.
Other Milford Town Council developments are as follows:
• Town Marshal Rich Miotto reported his department received a $3,500 grant for digital video cameras to be placed in newer cars.
• The council allocated $2,100 for reserves to receive two bulletproof vests and two trainees to receive training.
• A motion to approve $970 for backup Glock nine millimeter pistols as secondary weapons passed.
• Veach was named “small system operator of the year” by Indiana Rural Water Association
• The council tabled a decision about how to fund milling and paving of the streets in 2016.