By David Hazledine
MILFORD — Milford Town Council approved its 2021 budget at a monthly meeting held Monday evening, Sept. 14. The total estimate of $2,232,073 is a 4.1% increase over the 2020 budget. The increase is less than 2020, which saw a 6.8% increase.
“We were not as aggressive as we were last year,” explained Clerk/Treasurer Tricia Gall. The maximum tax levy for 2021 is $655,690 for a $25,838 increase. The estimated assessed value of properties in Milford is $54,568,756, a 4.2% growth quotient. Gall added the assessed value in 2020 was roughly $12 million higher than the estimation, which will likely be the case again in 2021.
Property values were an issue for Milford resident Jay Urbin, who questioned the council about where it stood in relation to Ron Davidhizar, who owns uninhabited properties deemed in violation by Tom Bulger, Milford building inspector.
“We’ve been dealing with him for two years,” said Urbin, who lives next to one of Davidhizar’s properties on Maple Street.
Town Attorney Jay Rigdon reminded the council it chose the path of fining Davidhizar, and said another hearing is slated for this month. If Davidhizar is found to have not complied with the inspector, the town may have other options, such as taking the matter to court or appointing a receiver responsible for the properties.
“We’ve given him all the rope I want to give him,” stated council member Ken Long.
Also in attendance was Scott Gingerich, who requested a variance to keep chickens on his property in town limits. This was denied by the council. Additionally, a motion was passed to write a letter to another property owner in Milford who has refused to comply with orders to dispose of chickens. “We need to make sure failure to comply will result in litigation,” said Rigdon.
The council passed an ordinance restricting parking on the north side of Emeline Street for 590 feet east of the intersection with West Street except for Sundays and holidays. The ordinance comes in response to bottlenecks.
During utilities reports, Superintendent Steven Marquart said residents should continue to restrict water usage as the water tower pump remains inoperable. According to Marquart engineers from BF Anderson and Verizon cannot decide where the digital problem is occurring.
Marquart also enumerated several areas where water lines are in need of replacement. The cost to replace one 2-inch line on Emeline Street running between James and East streets with a 6-inch line and add a hydrant is $49,400. Other lines needing repair are located on Maple Street, West Catherine Street, South Henry and Main Street, each expected to cost around $15,000.
The total expenditure, including street repair, comes to $123,421. However, Gall pointed out Marquart only has $54,875 left for 2020.
Council President Doug Ruch suggested bringing the matter to the Milford Redevelopment Commission, because the lines affect water flow to TIF districts, and the matter was tabled, though the council did approve $6,206 to fix streets where work was done earlier in the year.
During clerk reports, Gall explained a FEMA plan to extend the flood plain around Turkey Creek will be reviewed. Gall and Long discussed the matter with Area Planning Commission Assistant Planner Matt Sandy and others, who said FEMA needs better information for its models. Ruch suggested locating a stream modeling report done at the time of wastewater plant construction.
The council also voted to allow a senior fitness class to hold sessions in the Milford Community Building at 10 a.m. Tuesdays, at no cost.
Gall also informed the council utilities bills are once again being collected following a reprieve due to COVID-19, and after disconnections were made on eight properties, only three remain shut off. “People are doing a great job keeping up,” said Gall. “A lot of towns are not in the same situation.”