Text and Photos by David Hazledine
MILFORD — Two months after a communication failure at Milford’s water tower led to a call for limited water use, the town is still grappling with the problem, according to Utilities Superintendent Steven Marquart, who spoke at the Tuesday, Oct. 13, Milford Town Council meeting.
Emergency repairs to Well 4 were less than expected at $16,200; however, the cost of communication repairs by BF Anderson is $8,467, $5,000 more than the original quote, said Marquart, and the water tower is still not responding to the well pump as expected. Furthermore, it was discovered the system has been hacked, necessitating a new IP address and account changes.
In response to councilman Ken Long’s query as to what caused the additional cost, Marquart said BF Anderson had to “bring in more people to figure out what was happening.” Town Clerk Tricia Gall confirmed labor costs accounted for more than $5,000 of the bill, even after travel discounts and a 10% credit.
Council President Doug Ruch called for a meeting with BF Anderson before payment on the grounds the software problem remains unresolved.
The council also voted to upgrade Well 3 with a 460 volt variable frequency drive motor from Peerless Electric for $21,570, along with $7,327 for a new transformer from Middlebury Electric. An additional $6,290 will go to treatment for iron bacteria, which helps limit rust in the system, said Marquart.
After hearing quotes from LWG CPAs and Accountants, the council voted to hire the company for both water and wastewater studies. Gall noted water studies are recommended every four-five years and Milford has not had one in that time. The fee will be $5,500 or time expended, whichever is lowest. The wastewater rate study will be $2,500 or time expended.
Long noted the rates for both are less than the previous wastewater study done by Baker Tilly. Gall hopes the studies will “help us understand what happened with the last study … where did it go wrong.”
Milford will once again apply for the Community Crossing grant. Using information from its asset management plan, the total cost estimate for street repairs came to $359,053, said Marquart. If awarded the grant, Indiana Department of Transportation would pay 75%, $269,289, leaving the town on the hook for $89,763.25. Marquart noted prices often come in lower than expected, and “we don’t have to do every street on the list.” Gall added the money will be available in the 2021 budget in local roads and streets and restricted motor vehicle and highway funds.
Ruch noted some streets on the list beyond Shaffer Street are not currently in the town limits and would need to be annexed.
After Marquart enumerated nearly $28,000 in needed door repairs in town-owned buildings, the council voted to fix a door used by Lutheran EMS in the community building at a cost of $2,399.49. “We have to keep in mind all the other things going on,” Gall commented.
Among those is the possible dredging of ponds at the wastewater plant, as Mark Brubaker, water operator, noted. Brubaker also reported recent plant upgrades have translated to “more savings on electricity consumption” as well as “improvements in the treatment process.” Security cameras have also been installed at the plant.
Marquart reported NIPSCO will be replacing streetlights with standard LED lights in 2021, which will lower Milford’s electric bill.
The council passed two new ordinances at the Oct. 13 meeting. Ordinance 2020-8 establishes a Building Code Enforcement Fund, which currently has $18,000, according to Gall. The fund will help pay for further enforcement as well as inspector and commissioner salaries.
During police reports, the council voted to approve the hiring of two full-time officers: Travis Bays and Dallas Rice. Brian Bradley was also hired as a new reserve officer. The hirings come after the resignation of Marcus Boyer for personal reasons and Brandon Shipp, who will move to the Syracuse Police Department Oct. 30.
The council also approved a new payment matrix recommended by Chief Derek Kreider, raising the probationary period salary from $41,000 to $43,000 and base pay from $43,000 to $45,000. Kreider said the change will make the town “more competitive” when hiring officers in the future.
Following the September public hearing on its 2021 budget, the council voted to adopt the $2,232,073 budget. Ruch abstained from voting due to his status as a volunteer fireman.
Ruch praised the efforts of Gall near the meeting’s end, following her report on filing for an 80-20 matching safety grant as well as CARES Act funding for $51,001. “She finds us money to do everything we try to do … a forward-thinking individual.”
The council set Halloween trick-or-treating hours from 6-8 p.m. Oct. 31. Trick-or-treaters can also visit the Milford Fire Department, 214 S. Main St., where candy bags and glow sticks will be available.
With elections approaching, the council was visited by Kelly Thompson, a candidate for Indiana State Representative District 22, as well as Wawasee Community School Corporation Superintendent Tom Edington, who gave a presentation in support of a proposed referendum for the school corporation.