By Lauren Zeugner
SYRACUSE — The Syracuse Town Council heard from Ben Plikerd, owner of Brooke Pointe Inn, during its regular meeting Tuesday night, Nov. 17. The council meets via Zoom.
Plikerd recently sent a petition to the town requesting annexation into town. At a meeting a few months ago, Plikerd explained he would like to expand the Inn’s housing capacity by adding 30 cabins onto the property. In order to do that, the property must be hooked up to a sewer line.
Mike Noe, town manager, told Plikerd, he had the petition but wasn’t sure what the next step would be. Both the town and Plikerd are being advised by Bose McKinley, a law firm with experience in these types of issues. Plikerd said he was told the process could take a year to accomplish.
Councilman Larry Siegel asked if the council supported what Plikerd was proposing. Council President Paul Stoelting, along with Councilmen Tom Hoover and Bill Musser said they supported the idea, but wanted more information regarding costs and which entity would be responsible for paying.
Noe offered to get an estimated cost. Plikerd explained he is planning on installing a pond on his property and believes he can do the dirt work on his property for the sewer line, stoping 1,000 feet from the Burger King lift station on Bowser Road. He thought accessing the sewer that way made the most sense.
The council agreed to proceed forward with the next steps.
Discussion ensued during Police Chief Jim Layne’s report. Noting the town received $93,000 from the CARES act, he requested to spend $57,957 for 10 in-band radios and to have them installed. Siegel immediately asked weren’t the funds to be used for payroll and overtime for first responders dealing with the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Fire Chief Mickey Scott stated the township trustee was advised to come to the town about receiving funds for the Turkey Creek Fire Territory’s overtime and part-time pay. Scott explained townships did not receive any CARES Act money and that every fire department in Kosciusko County, except Warsaw City, is funded by a township.
Scott also pointed out his guys are the ones running calls with actual COVID patients. Members of the council had questions regarding how the grant money should be allocated between the two entities and what it could be spent on.
Siegel turned to Vern Landis, town attorney, seeking advice. Landis stated he wasn’t sure, that he knew nothing about the CARES act or how the grant money could be used.
Siegel expressed concern about using the funds for equipment when it was meant to cover payroll first and there were 6 weeks remaining in the year. He also pointed out the pandemic isn’t over and more and more town employees are getting sick.
Scott noted he requested $7,000 in overtime and part-time pay and an additional $11,000 to purchase supplies.
After more discussion, the council approved the funds for the new radios and determined to figure the rest out after learning more about how the grant can or should be used.
The police department also received an Indiana Department of Home Security grant for $214,375 to be used for security measures at the high school. Clerk-Treasurer Virginia Cavier, explained she wanted to take the funds out of the Economic Development Income Tax account and then appropriate it into the police fund. The council approved.
Noe reported DJ Construction has already begun demolition at the Harold Schrock Athletic Park. The town is in the process of turning the property over to Polywood.
Noting the county may implement more restrictions due to the increased number of people with COVID, Noe asked the council to advise town department heads as to what they should do. The town passed a resolution in March which gives Council President Paul Stoelting the authority to take necessary steps during the pandemic.
Two new pumps were purchased for the Key Bank lift station. One was broken and couldn’t be replaced. The other was 30-years-old. The Water Department has already turned in its water loss report to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. The report is due Jan. 1.
The street department is doing leaf pickup and will continue to do so through Dec. 4, depending on how the town looks.
Chad Jonsson, park superintendent, reported Breakfast with Santa will be a drive through event this year. It will be held from 8-10 a.m. Dec. 5. The park department is also working on a number of projects in the park.
The council approved the fire territory spending approximately $6,000 to equip its new truck. The council also approved staying with PHP as its current health insurance provider.
The council also approved transferring 14,000 to cover engineering costs for the Polywood road construction project.