MILFORD — In a nearly three hour public meeting Monday evening, March 14, Milford Town Council mulled the possibility of reestablishing three cumulative funds to higher rates. The move would mean a raise in taxes for Milford property owners, though just how much remains unclear.
During a public hearing, town clerk and treasurer Joellen Free informed the council three revenue streams, referred to as emergency funds — capital development fund, sewer fund and capital improvement fund — have not been reestablished to their highest level in 20 years.
“It could’ve been done a long time ago,” said Free. “We have not been receiving the amounts we could by law.”
The funds are particularly important in light of deep cuts by the state to local governments. Indeed, Monday night’s meeting also saw the council struggling with its utilities budget, which saw cuts from around $40,000 to $15,000 for motor vehicles, possibly preventing the purchase of a new truck. According to Free, these cumulative funds could be used for large expenditures of that sort: police cars, trucks, utility vehicles.
The reestablishment of these funds to higher levels would be submitted to the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance for approval. The higher tax rate would then be levied and the town would see an increase in revenue in 2017. Free informed the council the town code stipulated “one part per 100 of assessed valuation” was the maximum rate allowed. However, the council wasn’t sure if “assessed valuation” is one-third of the total value or not.
“I want to see the impact if these are raised to the maximum,” said Doug Ruch, council member. The council agreed and tabled the ordinance reestablishing higher rates. In the meantime, the town will also ask the IDLGF if “true assessed value” of real estate is used or if an equation is factored in.
Other items on Monday night’s agenda were as follows:
- During utilities reports, utilities superintendent Randy Veach asked the council to approve the purchase of a new truck and blade for snow removal at a cost of more than $30,000. Council President Dan Cochran questioned the need for a fourth truck in a town with “ten miles of road.” He cited the town of Ligonier, which covers 40 miles of road with five trucks. The truck was not in Veach’s 2016 budget, and Free reminded Veach the utilities budget was cut from “40 down to 15.”
- The council passed Ruch’s motion to “get a trade-in price in writing” and research the possible savings in buying the cab and chassis separately.
- A motion was also passed allowing $995 for an inspection of the water tower.
- The council also voted to allow Pigtek to upgrade its culverts to prevent flooding of their truck bays.
- In police reports, acting town marshal Travis Marsh requested a raise in pay while he fills in for Rich Miotto, on medical leave. The council approved the raise until Miotto’s return.
- Marsh also informed the council of the need to reset the police department’s licensure with Watchguard Products allowing police access to secure files. The council approved $395 for the license.
- Milford town employees were also on hand to suggest changes to the rough draft of a new employee handbook. Health insurance, vacations, cellphones, clothing allowances, travel pay and license requirements were all discussed at length.