SYRACUSE — The Syracuse Town Council held its final meeting of 2020 Tuesday night, Dec. 15, wrapping up past projects and moving forward to 2021. The council met via Zoom.
The Council passed a motion allowing Clerk-Treasurer Virginia Cazier to write a check for $20,000 to the Turkey Creek Fire Territory. These funds are coming from the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund.
Candice Brown, a resident of Fox Run, came before the council regarding an annexation matter. Shortly after purchasing her home in Fox Run, she discovered it was annexed into the town limits. It is the only home in Fox Run that is annexed and she would like it reversed.
Council member Bill Musser told the other members of the council and Brown he did some research and as far as he could tell, it was nearly impossible to reverse an annexation. It would require 10 percent of the population agreeing or be put on a ballot to be voted on.
Town Attorney Vern Landis said he would be willing to look into the matter and come back with more information for both Brown and the council next month. The council agreed to table the matter until Landis could make his report next month.
In department reports, Mike Noe, town manager and public works superintendent, reported he would like to have an engagement letter with Bose, McKinney, Evans, a law firm the town uses on a variety of projects.
The town wants to establish a personal property tax increment finance district to capture the taxes on one business’s equipment in the technology park. The equipment is valued at between $5 and $6 million. This is the first time the town has attempted establishing this type of TIF.
The town received $343,875 in a Community Crossroads Grant. The funds will be used to expand Brooklyn Street towards Polywood. Noe told the council he hopes to apply for the next round of funding. Applications for the next round of Community Crossroads grants are due in January.
The council approved a task order for $20,000 to have Commonwealth Engineering on retainer for various projects next year.
The council approved the waste water and water budgets. The council also approved all 2021 appointments without comment.
The council approved Cazier writing out checks for $5,509 and approximately $7,000 for the Skadata process at the waste water treatment plant.
The council approved spending $20,215.67 on a trench box. Noe explained this is a tool that is OSHA certified. It is a safety item when work crews are working in trenches deeper than 4 feet. The box shores up the sides while the crews work.
The council approved spending $2,031.92 on breakaway poles for speed limit signs along SR 13.
Police Chief Jim Layne reviewed his monthly report. He told the board he still has funds left in his budget and would like to replace three vehicles with two squad cars and a pick-up truck. The total cost would be approximately $88,042. The council approved the purchase and also passed a motion allowing Cazier to write a check for that amount.
Chad Jonsson, park superintendent, reported he and Councilman Larry Martindale reviewed the first draft of the new ball park. They made some changes and sent it back to the engineers to wrok on.
Breakfast with Santa was an OK event, but not great. The park department is currently planning on having an adult basketball league and is working with the health department on making this possible. Should Kosciusko County go into the red due to rising numbers of COVID-19 cases, the program will be canceled.
Chief Mickey Scott reported the Turkey Creek Fire Territory received its new truck and it is now in service at Station I. He thanked the council for the CARES money and for approving the trench box for the street department.
He also asked that people check their CO (carbon monoxide) detectors and make sure their batteries were working. If they did not have a CO detector, he encouraged them to get them for their home.
He said this time of year the fire department starts receiving calls for CO poisoning. CO detectors can be purchased at most hardware stores.
Cazier reported she needed approval from the council to not hold an end of the year meeting. The council approved.
She told the council she would follow previous protocol regarding encumbering funds from 2020 into 2021.
The council passed two motions allowing Cazier to write checks for the purchase of in-car radios and for hand-held radios.
The council nominated Larry Siegel to be council president in 2021. He nominated Tom Hoover to be vice president.
Hoover informed the board he had met the new school superintendent and offered any help from the council.
Hoover then stated he did not approve of a comment made during a recent public hearing regarding the town council not knowing what it was doing. The comment was reported by The Mail-Journal.
After stating the comment was unfair, and that the person who made it should purchase a house in town and run for office Hoover acknowledged he did receive an apology. “It was a bit late and a dollar short,” he said.
Outgoing Council President Paul Stoelting suggested that since Siegel would be council president next year that someone else on the redevelopment commission serve as president.
Stoelting suggested such a move would encourage input from the other members, “so everyone knows what’s being done.”
Siegel responded by pointing out that as president this past year, Stoelting was given the power to make decisions when the council was unable to meet. Stoelting then appointed three people to the redevelopment commission, one being himself. He doesn’t see what the issue is.
Musser said he could see where Siegel was coming from, but asked that Siegel to inform the council on when he initiates a project rather than waiting until its time for the council to vote on the matter to inform them as to what is going on.