MILFORD — Milford Town Council’s wastewater woes continued at its Monday, March 11, meeting as member Joellen Free enumerated the reasons it decided to raise the utility’s monthly rate. Users can expect an average rate of $46.50, up from $43.12, the amount decided upon in 2016, when it was raised for the first time in nearly a decade.
Among those reasons were the losses of major utility customers such as Royal Building Products in 2011 and, more recently, a laundromat, car wash and Lakeland Rehabilitation Center, adding up to more than $50,000 in lost revenue.
Plant changes resulting from the federally-mandated removal of phosphorous have also required increased labor at the wastewater plant, which has been pulling employees from other jobs.
“We’ve struggled for many years to get wastewater operating on its own like it’s supposed to,” Free noted. A rate study in 2016 recommended Milford raise the average from $40.20 to $45 to meet expenses and costs related to federally-mandated wastewater plant upgrades. The council chose instead to bring the rate up to $43.12 — spread out over two years — “with no success … we’re still in the red,” Free concluded.
A September 2018 study recommended a rate of $50.07; however, it also found the town could pull from other funds operating at a surplus. So members chose a “magic number” between $43.12 and $50.07: $46.50. The rate will soon be advertised, along with the date of a public hearing.
In other news, Travis Marsh’s replacement for the police captain position will be long time Milford officer Derek Kreider.
Kreider has served a total of 12 years in Milford, three as a reserve before spending 12 years with the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office, after which he returned to Milford, reaching sergeant and, for the last year, working in Milford Elementary School as a school resources officer.
The council voted to approve Lt. Tim Miller as new SRO officer.
The council also reviewed a notification from the Wawasee Community School Corporation of a public hearing for a proposed solar field, located west of Milford School, which will generate the school’s electricity.
Rebecca Alles, Van Buren Township trustee, asked about the baseball diamond currently located in that area, which is used by a summer league responsible for recent improvements.
“That is a conversation for the school board,” answered Doug Ruch, council president. Ruch also mentioned the solar field would be less than 261 feet in length, smaller than a similar field in Leesburg.
During police reports, the council approved motions to purchase outgoing Chief Marsh’s 2010 Crown Victoria to be used as SRO vehicle at a cost of $3,500. The current SRO vehicle will be decommissioned and placed in a Polk Auction Sale.
During wastewater reports, the council approved the purchase of a starter capacitor board for the lift station not to exceed $600.
In other utilities news, the council approved $7,316 in salt after Street Superintendent Steven Marquart reported using 75 tons in 2018. The price per ton went up from $72.78 last year to $103.55, according to Marquart.
Milford will switch to LED street lighting after the council approved Middlebury Electric’s bid of $2,428. Marquart estimated the new lights to pay for themselves within 10 years.